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Leisure and hospitality projected to mostly recover pandemic-driven employment losses

October 17, 2022

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the U.S. economy to add 8.3 million jobs from 2021 to 2031. Of those, 1.9 million jobs—23.1 percent of all new jobs projected—are expected to be in leisure and hospitality. That is a large projected increase for a sector that made up 8.9 percent of total employment in 2021. This rapid projected growth—the fastest of any sector, at an annual rate of 1.3 percent—results from the recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leisure and hospitality employment, 1991–2021 and projected to 2031
Year Employment

1991

9,256,000

1992

9,437,000

1993

9,732,000

1994

10,100,000

1995

10,501,000

1996

10,777,000

1997

11,018,000

1998

11,232,000

1999

11,543,000

2000

11,862,000

2001

12,036,000

2002

11,986,000

2003

12,173,000

2004

12,493,000

2005

12,816,000

2006

13,110,000

2007

13,427,000

2008

13,436,000

2009

13,077,000

2010

13,049,000

2011

13,353,000

2012

13,768,000

2013

14,254,000

2014

14,696,000

2015

15,160,000

2016

15,660,000

2017

16,051,000

2018

16,295,000

2019

16,586,000

2020

13,148,000

2021

14,101,000

Projected 2031

16,024,000

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the leisure and hospitality sector experienced a sharp employment decline in 2020 because of social distancing measures and business shutdowns. Of the jobs lost in leisure and hospitality during the pandemic, only about one in four was recovered by 2021. Consequently, the fast projected growth over the 2021–31 decade will stem largely from recovery from low 2021 employment.

In fact, 7 of the top 20 fastest growing industries are in leisure and hospitality. Within leisure and hospitality, we project the promoters of events, and agents and managers to be the fastest growing industry, at 3.4 percent annually. Other industries with fast growth rates from 2021 to 2031 include amusement parks and arcades (3.2 percent annually) and performing arts companies (3.0 percent annually). In addition to recovery from the pandemic, employment growth in leisure and hospitality will be further driven by the general desire to participate in recreational activities.

The food services and drinking places industry is expected to have the largest employment increase of any industry, adding close to 1.3 million jobs from 2021 to 2031. This strong employment recovery will be reflected in the food preparation and serving related occupations, as establishments look to refill vacancies from the mass layoffs suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurant cooks, for example, is projected to add 459,900 new jobs over the decade—the second-largest employment increase of any occupation from 2021 to 2031. This projected growth, 36.6 percent, is nearly seven times the projected growth of total employment (5.3 percent) from 2021 to 2031.

These data are from the Employment Projections program. To learn more, see "Employment Projections — 2021–2031" and the Occupational Outlook Handbook. We also have detailed tables about the latest projections.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Leisure and hospitality projected to mostly recover pandemic-driven employment losses at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/leisure-and-hospitality-projected-to-mostly-recover-pandemic-driven-employment-losses.htm (visited December 01, 2022).

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