US travel industry continues growth

The American travel industry is continuing to create jobs, according to the latest Labor Department report.

David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at the United States Travel Association, noted that the unemployment rate in the country was 7.9 per cent for October 2012.

“[The released] jobs numbers are more good news for the travel industry,” Mr. Huether said. “At 7.6 million jobs in October, the travel industry has created 296,000 jobs since December 2009 – adding jobs in 29 of the past 34 months. This data shows the travel industry has recovered 59 per cent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. By comparison, the rest of the economy has recouped just 51 per cent of the jobs lost.

“Additionally, the travel industry has created jobs at 16 per cent faster pace than the rest of the economy since the overall employment recovery began in March 2010,” he said.

He added that the October Labor Department report showed that the economy added 171,000 jobs last month, including 6,000 additional travel jobs, while the unemployment rate essentially remained unchanged at 7.9 per cent last month.

“Taken together, [the] report shows that the labour market appears to be building positive momentum after modest growth earlier in the year. Over the past four months, the number of jobs added has been double that of the prior four months. Additionally, the fact that employment gains in August and September were upwardly revised by 84,000, including 9,000 more travel jobs, is welcome news,” he said.

Export intensive

The analyst added that the travel industry was twice as export intensive as the rest of the economy and supported millions of middle-class jobs that could not be outsourced.

“These unique qualities have made the travel industry a top performer in the current recovery. To build on this success, Congress should enact pending legislation such as the [Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act], which will encourage more international visitors to travel to the United States and create more American jobs.”

The act in question expands visa waiver schemes and is intended to simplify travel from qualifying countries. According to US Travel, President Barack Obama’s recent executive order, which committed the State Department to processing 80 per cent of all non-immigrant visas within 15 days, devoted some resources to address visa processing. The act codifies a two-week standard. Upon enactment, the legislation would require scheduling of the visa interview, the key element of the process, within 15 days; and a year later, the bill would require an interview to be held within 10 days.

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