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Job Loses Linger in Leisure & Hospitality Businesses

The pandemic has created a downturn across the economy.  But some industries have taken a particularly hard hit in Virginia.

Virginia's leisure and hospitality industry fell off a cliff when the pandemic hit last spring. Employment numbers for April 2020 were 42 percent lower than April 2019. Since that time, the numbers have been slowly crawling back toward normal.

But Terry Clower at George Mason University says that recovery has stalled.  "What has happened since mid-summer, our gains have been maybe 2,000 or 1,500 or 1,600, something like that. So it's not been nearly as big of a recovery in the last few months," Clower says.

Now that the infection rate is going up and states across the country are implementing new restrictions, Eric Terry at the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association says he expects things to get worse before they get better.  "Unfortunately, I think, with the governor's most recent order we've had a lot of cancellations occur in many areas. So in actuality our November numbers are probably going to be even worse."

He says the Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association will be pressing lawmakers to avoid new requirements to give employees paid leave or a higher minimum wage,  at least until the economy recovers in 2021 or 2022.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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