National Extension Tourism (NET): 2021 Conf. Proceedings

Covid state-level impact, by major sector

In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, outdoor recreation’s share of GDP shrank to 1.8 percent ($374.3 billion), underscoring that the sector was among the hardest hit. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) summarized in Figure 2 show the employment impacts of COVID-19 closures for key sectors on a monthly basis. These data are indexed to July 2019, the height of the tourism and recreation season pre-pandemic. Leisure and Hospitality sector employment collapsed in the first month of the pandemic (March 2020), declining by more than 50%, because of shutdowns and social distancing requirements. In comparison, employment in the other major sectors shown fell by a quarter or less. As recently as September 2021, Leisure and Hospitality employment had not returned to pre-pandemic levels, although there was a rebound to roughly 90% over the two-year period. At the time of publication, data is not available for the end of 2021, which saw a resurgence

of COVID-19 cases as the Delta and Omicron variants circulated. Figure 2 Monthly Employment by Sector, July 2019 = 100

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics based on authors’ own calculations.

For other sectors and state level updates, as well as for county-level overall employment and different income ranges, see the website ( There are significant differences by state in these patterns, and data are not available for some states for statistical reasons.

2021 NET Conference Proceedings


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