Leisure/Hospitality Jobs Remain Well Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

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The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures to curb the spread of the virus in spring 2020 caused the U.S. labor market to shed jobs on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. In just two months (March 2020 and April 2020), the nation lost nearly 22 million jobs (-14%), according to seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It took nearly two and a half years to recoup those losses. Not until August 2022 did the number of U.S. jobs finally exceed the pre-pandemic level from February 2020. But the jobs recovery has varied greatly by industry. The hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Leisure/Hospitality Services lost nearly half of its job base, or 8.2 million jobs, at the onset of the pandemic, with accommodation and food services accounting for almost one-third of those loses. However, the hospitality industry is recovering. In fact, the industry has been adding jobs well above the average annual gain of roughly 260,000 jobs in the two years prior to the pandemic. In 2022, Leisure/Hospitality Services gained 946,000 jobs, the second-best performance among major industries, behind Education/Health Services. And yet, Leisure/Hospitality Services has still not recovered all the pandemic-induced loses. As of December, Leisure/Hospitality Services was still about 932,000 jobs short of the February 2020 level, the worst performance among major industries.