Almost 80% (79%) of hoteliers say they continue to experience staffing shortages, 22% severely so, according to a new survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). The most critical staffing need is in housekeeping, with 43% ranking it as their top hiring challenge.

In response to the shortages, according to the survey, 71% of respondents are increasing wages, 64% are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 33% are expanding benefits – but 81% say they are still unable to fill open positions.
The situation has improved from last fall. Respondents are attempting to fill an average of seven positions per property, down from 10 vacancies per property in September 2022.

These staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees, according to AHLA. As of December, national average hotel wages were at all-time highs of more than $23 per hour. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy. And hotel benefits and flexibility, said AHLA, are better than ever.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hotel employment is down by more than 250,000 jobs compared with February 2020. Hotels are looking to fill many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, including nearly 100,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation.

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The AHLA Foundation has moved to meet the shortages with “A Place to Stay,” an advertising campaign across the country. Also, AHLA affiliate Hospitality Is Working recently launched the Workforce & Immigration Initiative. The effort is aimed at urging Congress to address workforce shortages with bipartisan solutions to incorporate more immigrants into the American economy.

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