Here is good news for both the travel industry and any traveler who has recently seen (sometimes extreme) chaos amid staff shortages at airlines and hotels: The travel industry is seeing significant employment growth.
The US economy created a total of 531,000 jobs in October, according to figures released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. And while many sectors – including retail, factories, and office jobs – grew, the largest year-over-year growth came from both transportation and leisure and hospitality.
In short, that means vacancies in the travel industry are returning – and being filled too. This could further suggest that travel disruptions caused by the pandemic may soon abate.
The results of our job report from October
Of the 10 industries in which the most new jobs were created in October 2021 compared to October 2020, eight fall in the transport sector or the leisure and hospitality sector, according to the BLS.
Here the fastest growing industries are seasonally adjusted based on the percentage change in jobs.
Percentage change from Oct. 2020 to Oct. 2021
Percentage change from Sept. 2021 to Oct. 2021
Performing arts and spectator sports
Countryside and sightseeing transportation
Film and sound recording industry
Support activities for mining
Entertainment, gambling and recreation
Transit and ground passenger transport
Gastronomy and drinking places
Museums, historical sites and similar institutions
How the labor supply has affected travelers
The leisure and hospitality industry was particularly hard hit in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, having lost 8.2 million jobs in March and April 2020 – a 49% drop in employment, according to the BLS.
But even as travel picked up again, many employees had not returned, leaving thousands of jobs vacant and one massive labor shortage. This shortage has created chaos, especially for air travelers – for example, more than 2,800 Spirit Airlines flights were canceled between July 30th and August 9th. Hundreds of American Airlines flights were canceled on Father’s Day weekend, and Southwest canceled more than 1,800 flights in an October weekend.
In each situation, airlines blamed staff shortages as the culprit for the initial delays, many of which resulted in further delays as staff were not on site to reach their next scheduled route.
And hotels have cut many services, including reducing the breakfast buffet to brown bags or providing housekeeping only on request. Without being fully staffed, it was a challenge for hotels to provide high quality guest service at pre-pandemic levels.
Short term trips will likely still be messy
Nationwide, the aviation sector created 9,200 jobs in October, while the accommodation sector created 23,200 jobs. Restaurants and bars created 119,400 jobs in the same month.
With these new jobs filled, recent travel challenges could almost be over, and vacation travel could be a little less chaotic than previously thought.