Blog Post

Insight: Summer 2021 in Utah: Tourism Up, Staffing Down

By: Jennifer Leaver

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

Long lines at the coffee shop, lengthy waits for a server, frenzied hotel clerks, and the phrase, “Sorry, we’re short-staffed today.” Sound familiar?

As the summer travel season in Utah continues to heat up, gaps in leisure and hospitality employment exist across the state. Based on the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Utah’s leisure and hospitality sector was down 8,800 jobs this May compared with two years ago; an employment deficit greater than in any other major Utah industry (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Utah Job Change by Industry, May 2021 vs. May 2019

Source: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data


Regionally, the largest hospitality job deficit exists along the Wasatch Front. In fact, Salt Lake City hospitality jobs were down nearly 10% this May, with both the accommodations and foodservice sectors down 2,200 jobs each. Conversely, the St. George area experienced a 5.9% increase in leisure and hospitali