Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Travel, Tourism, Outdoor Recreation Varied Widely Across States

Early outbreaks of COVID-19 affected large populations in New York and New Jersey in the spring of 2020, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a domestic travel advisory for those states.

In the rest of the country, the economy was already beginning to feel the economic impacts of the pandemic, especially on tourism and related industries that rely on people traveling.

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Not surprisingly, regions with the most severe COVID-19 outbreaks and largest share of tourism jobs were disproportionately affected at the start of the pandemic and the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) show the extent of the employment and earnings impacts from state to state.

Travel, tourism and outdoor recreation jobs make up approximately 4%-5% of total private employment in most states. However, Hawaii and Nevada are outliers with much larger shares of 14.4% and 21.0% in the second quarter of 2019, respectively.

Continue reading to learn more about:

  • Drop in tourism at onset of pandemic
  • Earnings losses in tourism jobs
  • Female workers more affected
  • More jobs, earnings losses for young workers
  • Workforce dynamics resources