The U.S. travel industry has returned to its pre-Great Recession employment level, while most of the economy still struggles to reach that mark, according to the latest U.S. Department of Labor figures released Friday.
With an addition of 7,000 travel jobs in January, plus a substantial upward revision of previous data, the new labor report reveals that the travel industry actually reached the milestone in October, and now stands 11 percent above the pre-recession employment peak of February 2008.
Since the recovery began, the travel industry has added jobs at a rate 19 percent faster than the rest of the economy overall, which has replaced only 88 percent of the jobs lost during the recession.
"We've always known that travel had the tools to outperform most of the economy even in very troubled times, so it's not a surprise that we've reached this mark while industries such as construction, manufacturing, real estate and finance are far from fully recovered," said David Huether, U.S. Travel's senior vice president for research and economics. "We had long suspected we would get back to pre-recession levels before the end of 2013, and lo and behold, the data revisions show we got there in October."
Travel supports 14.6 million American jobs, directly employs one in eight Americans across key job sectors—including transportation, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, among others—and is a top-10 employer in 47 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Travel-related jobs are notable for their quality as well as quantity. The average maximum salary for someone who started their career in the travel industry is $81,900—significantly higher than other industries—-and two in five of those go on to salaries in excess of $100,000 per year.
"This latest data leaves little room for doubt: travel is a job-creating powerhouse," said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. "It's nice to have reached this milestone, but there is much more we can do to build further upon this record of success. We're excited about the possibilities our industry holds for the U.S. economy and workers."
Dow concluded by noting that policymakers could encourage more U.S. travel job creation by passing the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act—which has been introduced in the House as H.R. 1354, and provisions of which were included in the Senate-passed immigration bill—and reauthorizing Brand USA, a non-profit, public-private partnership dedicated to increasing inbound international travel to the United States.
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.0 trillion in economic output and supports 14.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.