WASHINGTON (April 28, 2021) – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers union in North America, today joined forces to call on Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), provides a lifeline to hotel workers, providing the assistance they need to survive until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.
The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce. Leisure and hospitality has lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic that have yet to return, representing more than a third of all unemployed persons in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more stark, the unemployment rate in the accommodation sector specifically remains 330% higher than the rest of the economy.
Unfortunately, the road to recovery for the hotel industry is long. While leisure travel will start returning this summer as more people are vaccinated, business travel—the largest source of hotel revenue—is down 85% and is not expected to begin its slow return until the second half of this year. Full recovery is not expected until 2024.
The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide critical support to hotels and their workers during this crucial period. Key provisions include the following:
- Supporting Hotel Workers: Direct payroll grants, in an amount up to three months’ worth of pre-pandemic payroll cost, to be utilized for payroll and benefits expenses for workers. The legislation would require grantees to give laid-off workers recall rights to ensure those who lost their jobs are able to return to work.
- Allowing Worker-Friendly Tax Credits: Provides a Personal Protective Equipment Tax Credit to promote worker safety measures, which would allow for a payroll tax credit for 50% of costs associated with the purchase of personal protective equipment, technology designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic, increased testing for employees, and enhanced cleaning protocols that do not negatively impact the level of work for housekeeping staff.
Empty or permanently closed hotels have a ripple effect on communities throughout the country, hurting a wide range of businesses that rely on the presence of hotel guests, such as restaurants and retail, hotel supply companies and construction. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels also support an additional 26 jobs in the community, according to a study by Oxford Economics. With hotels expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs, based on the pre-pandemic ratio, an additional 1.3 million hotel supported jobs are in jeopardy this year without additional support from Congress.