By Cameron Sperance
September 4, 2020
The U.S. added 1.4. million jobs in August, lowering the national unemployment rate to 8.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While the monthly BLS report notes notable jobs gains in the leisure and hospitality sectors, the hotel industry isn’t exactly celebrating. Hotel unemployment remains at nearly 35 percent.
“The good news is the national unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent, and that’s fantastic, but the flip side is it paints a rosy picture when what we’re experiencing in our sector of the economy isn’t getting the attention it needs,” said American Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Chip Rogers.
The leisure and hospitality sector added 174,000 jobs in August, but roughly 75 percent of those gains went to bars and restaurants. Friday’s jobs report comes as the AHLA continues to lobby the U.S. Congress for another round of economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic, which decimated the hotel industry.
The unemployment numbers also arrived a week after MGM Resorts announced plans to lay off 18,000 U.S. employees.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. hotels are operating at occupancy levels below what is needed for owners to meet debt obligations and financially break even, according to a report released earlier this week by the AHLA. Only 33 percent of Americans have taken an overnight vacation since March, and only 38 percent say they are likely to take one by the end of the year.
There is one positive way for hoteliers to view Friday’s report: Hotel unemployment is coming down from a nearly 49 percent high reached in April.
But it is the end of the traditional peak summer travel season, and business travel is highly unlikely to kick in enough in the fall to offset an expected reduction in leisure travel.