One-third of Illinois’ missing jobs are from the leisure and hospitality industry, but that sector’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery lags virtually every other state in the U.S.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and many state-mandated shutdowns, businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector were among the most affected. While the industry contributed the most to job losses nationwide, it has also been equally vital to propelling states’ economic recoveries.
The states that have made the most progress in recouping their pandemic-related job losses have largely done so because their leisure and hospitality industries have bounced back faster than in other states. Unfortunately, Illinois’ recovery is still a long way away and the state’s leisure and hospitality industry remains the least recovered in the Midwest and the seventh least recovered in the nation.
It is no coincidence that Utah, Idaho, Texas and Arizona have all surpassed their pre-pandemic employment levels, as these states’ leisure and hospitality sectors are among the most recovered in the nation. Meanwhile, Illinois’ leisure and hospitality rebound is among the slowest in the nation.
Illinois is still missing 251,900 jobs since the pandemic began, and 35% of the missing jobs are in the leisure and hospitality industry.
It is clear that Illinois’ labor market recovery hinges on recouping jobs lost in the leisure and hospitality sector. What is far less clear, is how likely this is to happen. More than one-third of the workers who are still missing from Illinois’ workforce have likely retired. Making matters even worse for Illinois, a record exodus driving population decline threatens to prevent the state’s economy from ever returning to pre-pandemic employment levels.