Hotel workers need a lifeline; It’s time to pass the Save Hotel Jobs law
For more than a year and a half, Americans have seen their lives turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health crisis has affected us all, leaving no sector of our economy unscathed. But one industry has particularly suffered and faces the most difficult path to recovery – the hotel and accommodation industry.
The period since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the worst on record for hotels, devastating a vibrant industry.
The main source of hotel revenue – business travel – has been decimated and is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1.74 million jobs in less leisure and hospitality in August 2021 than in February 2020. The unemployment rate in the accommodation industry is nearly triple that of the rest of the economy, and Florida is on the verge of ending 2021 down by more than 44,000 hotel jobs compared to 2019.
While some hotels have seen an increase in leisure travel this summer, concerns over the rise of the Delta variant, as well as the persistent lack of business travel means that hotels and their employees will continue to struggle. Yet hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry that has not received direct assistance from Congress.
That’s why I joined Sen. Brian schatzBrian Emanuel SchatzAlabama Republican touting the infrastructure bill he voted against telehealth was a godsend during the pandemic; Congress must pursue innovation Building our future beyond the climate crisis READ MORE (D-Hawaii) to present the Hotel Jobs Act – legislation essential to the survival of one of the most important industries in almost every community in the country.
A report of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) found that without Congressional action, the industry will end 2021 with about 500,000 jobs. This means that one in five hotel jobs will not return by the end of the year. It is not sustainable.
Additionally, a new survey from Morning Consult and AHLA shows growing concerns over the Delta variant are driving travelers to cancel, cut back and postpone their trips. Sixty-seven percent of American business travelers plan to take fewer trips, while 69 percent of American Pleasure Travelers plan to do the same. These findings highlight what over 200 hotels in my neighborhood have told me: hotel workers are in desperate need of a lifeline.
At the onset of the pandemic, Congress passed various relief programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and federally backed COBRA coverage, to protect workers and small businesses. Sadly, those lifelines are running out and the hospitality industry continues to struggle, leaving workers along a stream without a paddle.
The Save Hotel Jobs law would create a crucial payroll support program to help employees and hoteliers weather the pandemic. Specifically, the legislation would provide up to three months of payroll support for a hotel that can demonstrate a 40% drop in revenue between 2019 and 2020. It is important to note that 100% of the grant would be used for payroll. and employee benefits. The legislation also includes strong right-of-recall provisions to get our hotel workers back to work, and a tax credit to give hotel owners an additional tool to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure safety. workers and customers.
The Save Hotel Jobs law is supported by both the industry and UNITE HERE – the largest union of hotel workers in North America – stressing the importance of bringing this bill to the finish line .
It’s time to act. Congress has already helped other travel and tourism sectors with the passage of the airline payroll support program, the restaurant revitalization fund and the Save our Stages law. Conditions for hotels are just as bad, if not worse, than any other industry, and circumstances remain dire for the foreseeable future.
From big cities to small towns, hotels are essential to our economy. The Save Hotel Jobs Act would help maintain our hotels until travel habits return to normal. I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will join me in supporting this necessary legislation on behalf of American workers.
Crist represents the 13th District of Florida.