Big job losses hammer Bay Area hotels, restaurants

SAN JOSE — Coronavirus-linked economic woes unleashed mammoth job losses for hotels and restaurants in the Bay Area and all of California last year, as business travel, tourism and dining out shriveled, an analysis of new reports shows.

The Bay Area lost well over 100,000 hotel and restaurant jobs, a drop of 33.6 percent from 2019, according to figures compiled by Beacon Economics that were analyzed by this news organization.

In California, the economic setbacks erased nearly a half-million lodging and dining jobs, a 29 percent drop from the prior year.

“We’ll see a lot of hotel and restaurant jobs come back as we get the pandemic behind us,” said Jeffrey Michael, Stockton-based Center for Business and Policy Research at University of the Pacific. “But you won’t see all of those jobs come back. The hotel jobs connected to business travel and conventions won’t have as many jobs.”

The hotel and restaurant sector nose-dived to a steeper degree than other industries that are also suffering. The retail industry lost 2.6% of its jobs nationwide and 6.4% in California. A category called other services that includes hard-hit businesses such as beauty parlors, nail salons, and barbershops, lost 7.4% of its jobs nationwide and 20.3% of its jobs in California.

The massive job losses in lodging and dining are being accompanied by a major slowdown in the number of hotels that are being opened and constructed in both the Bay Area and all of California, according to a report by Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group.

Last year, 12 hotels opened in the Bay Area, down 55.6% from 2019, according to this news organization’s analysis of the research report that Atlas Hospitality provided.

“COVID-19 has continued to decimate the hotel market,” Atlas Hospitality said in its report.

The hotels that opened during 2020 in the Bay Area accounted for 1,262 rooms, down from the 4,192 rooms that opened in 2019, according to the information provided by Atlas Hospitality, which tracks the California lodging market.

“This is the worst market we have seen in 20 years of doing this survey, in terms of hotel projects being deferred or abandoned,” said Alan Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group.

The number of hotels under construction, measured by the number of total rooms being developed, totaled 6,205 in the Bay Area in 2020, down 13.8% from 2019.

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