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Hotels face their own crippling shortage of workers

About 91% of the properties in the U.S. said they couldn't fill vacant jobs last month, according to the AH&LA. A typical hotel was short more than 10 people.
Hotels averaged 10.3 staff vacancies in September. / Photograph: Shutterstock

More than 9 of every 10 hotels in the United States are unable to fill vacancies in their staffs despite a climb in wages to an average of $22 an hour across the industry, according to new research from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, or AH&LA.

A canvass of 200 hoteliers during mid-September showed the typical lodging property is operating with 10.3 positions unfilled, with housekeeping jobs proving particularly difficult to fill. About a third of the respondents (36%) characterized the labor shortage as severe.

The vacancies come despite efforts by the lodging industry to sweeten its appeal as a place to work. About 81% of domestic hotels have increased wages, 64% are striving for greater flexibility in scheduling and 35% have expanded benefits, the AH&LA found.

The association is leading an industrywide effort to teach the public that the lodging business provides at least 200 career routes, from accounting to marketing to engineering to culinary arts.

Yet the improvements over the business’ labor situation in May have been slight. Mid-spring, the typical hotel was short 12 staffers, and 97% of the nation’s properties said they were unable to fill their job vacancies. That compares with the 91% of innkeepers who said they were unable to fill vacancies last month.

The industry currently has about 115,000 job vacancies, and total employment is down by 400,000 positions from the level of Feb. 2020, according to government statistics.

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