The hotel industry was hit particularly hard by the pandemic slowdown, and now it may become a victim of its own recovery.
A shortage of workers is not only causing costs to increase, but is making it harder for hotel operators to meet increased customer demand. And, if service is bad, hotel guests are almost definitely going to complain on Yelp or TripAdvisor.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the problem is multifaceted:
- First, many workers are receiving high unemployment benefits and struggling with childcare issues, giving them little incentive to take a low-wage job.
- Second, hotel housekeeping is physically demanding work, and not everyone wants to do it. Other hotel jobs are customer-facing and bring risks of exposure to Covid and other diseases; after a year of social distancing, people have become almost painfully aware of that.
- Finally, there are other jobs out there. Some of those who were laid off early in the pandemic have found employment in other industries, while others are checking out the competition before taking their old jobs back.
Policymakers are struggling with the issue of whether the problem is rooted in increased unemployment benefits and stimulus payments or something else. Before the pandemic, economists were looking at whether a labor shortage would materialize because of changes in American demographics. That concern may be resurfacing.
In the meantime, be sure to tip the hotel housekeeping staff when you take your post-pandemic vacation.
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