Wed, February 21, 2024

Simon Says: Augusta’s hospitality industry reaches a milestone

Dr. Simon Medcalfe, AU Economics Professor

A major Augusta milestone was achieved with May’s employment data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Leisure and hospitality employment surpassed the pre-pandemic peak.

There were 29,600 people employed in the leisure and hospitality sector in May. The previous peak was 28,000 in May 2019. The sector lost 11,000 jobs in the depths of the stay-at-home orders in spring 2020.

Moreover, the leisure and hospitality industry now employs more workers than retail, a position it lost during the pandemic. The retail sector lost about 1,000 jobs in May.

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As we say in England, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, so one month’s data should not be used to forecast future employment. However, I have written here before about the changing nature of our post-pandemic economy.

Consumers seem to be switching back to more experiential spending and away from buying goods. The natural result of that is that retailers are seeing lower foot traffic and so need fewer workers, while leisure and hospitality businesses are seeing the reverse.

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