Employment in leisure and hospitality is projected to grow faster than any other sector in the year ahead as well as over the next decade.
That’s the great news from government economists. But will rising demand be enough to bring workers back to this industry? Probably not. As employers are increasingly realizing, solving the hiring crunch will come down to higher wages.
Pay in the sector has already been on the rise.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from September 2020 to September 2021, compensation costs for workers in the leisure and hospitality industry increased by 6.9 percent, compared with an increase of 4.1 percent for the 12 months ended September 2020.
We’re not talking about restaurant jobs alone, by the way. Not only will people dine out more as the economy expands in 2022, but they are also expected to return to traditional entertainment venues and travel more widely.
With the Omicron surge, of course, there are questions about the return of business travel and just how well lodging might recover.
Large business meetings and conventions evaporated at the height of the pandemic and have a long way to go before climbing to pre-COVID levels.
Still, the very smart people at the Economic Outlook Group believe that business travel will come roaring back in the next year or so. What’s more, with the infrastructure legislation now passed and debt ceiling raised, recession, they believe, is off the table for the next five years in the U.S.
Is that overly optimistic? Only time will tell, but we think there’s good reason to be hopeful.