NYS hotel jobs down nearly 40% as COVID outbreak lingers

The struggling New York State hotel industry will end the year with nearly 40 percent fewer jobs than it had in 2019 — before the coronavirus pandemic triggered travel restrictions and lockdowns that decimated the sector, according to a new report.

New York hotels boasted a total of 116,106 jobs in 2019.

Last year, hotels in the Empire State employed 69,088 workers — a loss of 47,018 jobs amid the worst of the COVID-outbreak.

But the recovery from the pandemic has been slower for New York hotels this year than any other state in the nation amid ongoing restrictions in international and business travel, the mid-year analysis by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found.

A bellhop waits with luggage as tourists are seen the Plaza Hotel on July 20, 2021 in New York City.
New York City has seen a slow increase of tourism as more people receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Employment in New York hotels will only inch up to 72,077 jobs in 2021 — still 44,029 fewer jobs than pre-pandemic — or down 37.9 percent, the highest rate of job loss of any state in the country.

That’s nearly double the 20.8 percent average job loss of all hotels in the U.S,, the report said.

Only the District of Columbia fares worse, with a projected 43 percent job loss for 2021.

By comparison, hotel jobs are down 21.5 percent in tourism heavy Florida, 26.8 percent in California, 28.8 percent in Hawaii and 35.2 percent in Illinois.

The sun sets on the iconic New Yorker hotel sign on November 27, 2020 in New York City.
The New York hotel industry struggled amid COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

There are 30.2 percent fewer hotel jobs in neighboring Massachusetts, 22.7 percent in New Jersey, 28.3 percent in Connecticut and 23.6 percent in Pennsylvania.

But the loss of jobs is far worse in New York City than the rest of the state.

“We have a dire situation. We’ve been slammed,” said New York City Hotels Association president Vijay Dandapani.

Big Apple hotels employed 55,000 workers pre-pandemic but now only 15,000 are permanently employed – a loss of nearly 70 percent of jobs, Dandapani said.

A view of the Holiday Inn hotel in Times Square hours ahead of the implementation of 'New York State on PAUSE' executive order as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 22, 2020
The industry will end the year with nearly 40 percent fewer jobs than 2019.
Noam Galai/Getty Images

The number of city hotel rooms has plummeted by 30,000 — from 130,000 pre-pandemic to about 100,000 now, he said.

Dandapani’s data threw cold water on Mayor de Blasio’s recent remarks that a boost in tourism was beginning to fill up hotel rooms following a $30 million city ad blitz.

“We are gateway city. We depend on conference and convention business. That hasn’t come back. There’s nothing happening on that front,” Dandapani said.

As an example, he noted that only about 1,000 people are expected to personally attend the UN General Assembly’s hybrid conference in Manhattan next month, down from the typical 10,000 visitors.

A view of the W hotel on May 11, 2020 in New York City.
The number of city hotel rooms is down 30,000.
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Dandapani also said the federal ban on international travel into the U.S. has crushed the city hotel industry.

“We’ll see it get better when the borders re-open. Europeans can’t come here,” he said.

The head of the union representing 40,000 hotel and casino workers said the jobless numbers clearly show the industry is still in a weakened state.

“The fact that tens of thousands of hotel workers are still facing ongoing unemployment is a sober indication of how far along we are in our pandemic recovery. Tourism is one of the region’s most important industries, and it’s critical that we do all we can to get it back on its feet,” said Hotel Trades Council president Rich Maraoko.

De Blasio’s office had no immediate comment.

A recent report released by the national hotel trade group claimed the New York hotel industry was mired in a depression.

“While demand for leisure travel is rising, business and group travel, the industry’s largest source of revenue and a major source of employment, will take significantly longer to recover,” the AH&L said in its Monday’s analysis.

An employee wears a protective mask while working behind a plastic barrier at the front desk of the NobleDen Hotel in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Monday, June 15, 2020
The loss of jobs in the hotel industry is far worse in New York City than the rest of the state.
George Etheredge/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, wiping out 10 years of hotel job growth.”

A typical hotel supports an additional 26 jobs in the community for every 10 people directly employed, according to a study by Oxford Economics.

“These numbers are just direct hotel property jobs, such as housekeepers and front desk agents, and do not include the total job loss from other industries that are supported by the hotel industry, including restaurants, retail, attractions and live
events, transportation services, small business vendors and supplies for hotels, among many others,” the report said.

During the pandemic, 60 city hotels took homeless individuals who were diverted from dense shelters to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. But persons who are homeless are now being reassigned to shelters amid plummeting infection rates and rising vaccination rates.