According to the monthly employment report recently released by the Department of Labor, the U.S. Leisure & Hospitality sector gained 355,000 jobs in February and the industry's unemployment rate now stands at 13.5%—compared with 379,000 jobs gained and a 6.2% unemployment rate for the overall economy.
Even with the progress made with vaccinations, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow says it's far from clear when travel demand will be able to rebound on its own and the while the report shows travel industry jobs heading in the right direction, "the fact remains that the Leisure & Hospitality sector's total jobs are still at just 80% of the levels we saw last February—a staggering figure. The travel industry lost millions of jobs last year, accounting for nearly 40% of all jobs lost," Dow explained.
Thankfully, some progress in terms of relief for the industry is being made. On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package) into law. The package includes much-needed federal assistance and substantial support to aid the travel industry's recovery.
This news comes on the heels of the CDC issuing new guidance for fully vaccinated people, offering insight into activities that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely resume. Though at the time of publication of this article, the CDC has yet to release guidance specific to travel for fully vaccinated people.
There's additional cause for optimism though, as plans for future travel are on the rise. A recent Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers indicates that 81% of travelers plan to travel in the next six months, an increase of 16 percentage points since mid-January and the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic last March.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.