New job data in the travel sector gives vacationers hope

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    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.

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