The recovery in leisure and hospitality employment

The FRED Blog has previously looked at the negative impact of social distancing on employment levels in the leisure and hospitality industry. Today, one year later, we take a look at how the overall economic recovery is reflected in this industry.

The GeoFRED map above shows the percent change between May 2020 and May 2021 of employment levels in the leisure and hospitality industry for each state. The data are seasonally adjusted, meaning they correct for the recurring ups and downs in activity during any given year. For example, winter ice fishing in North Dakota or summer vacationing in Florida.

Overall, the number of employees in the leisure and hospitality industry increased from May 2020 to May 2021 by a stunning average of 42%. The smallest increase was 20% in Oklahoma, and the largest increase was 73% in Delaware.

The high-growth states, with increases in employment of over 60%, are in dark green. Eight of these ten states are concentrated in the Northeast, including, in ascending order, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Low-growth states (in purple) were mainly concentrated in the southern region of the U.S.

Ok. So employment has rebounded. But has it returned to pre-pandemic levels?

The bar graph above shows the level of employment in leisure and hospitality in May 2021 as a fraction of May 2019 employment. From this graph, we see that only one state has reached (and even slightly exceeded) its pre-pandemic level of employment: Idaho.

The rest of the states still lag behind in their recovery, and this graph suggests there may be opportunities for employment growth in this sector. Where are these opportunities more abundant? Relative to 2019, the Northeast states, where employment contracted the most last year, still have plenty of jobs to fill. Overall, the pandemic and ensuing recession had a large impact in the leisure and hospitality industry but employment opportunities in the sector are recovering rapidly.

How this map was created: In GeoFRED, click on “Tools” and select the “Choose Data” tab. First, select “Region Type: State.” Next, search for “All Employees: Leisure and Hospitality, Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Thousands of Persons.” Change the units to “Percent Change from Year Ago” and edit the legend by entering the following values: -74, -60, -50, -40, -30. Lastly, change the color to a divergent palette of your choice.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo and Victoria Yin.



Categories: Research