15 American Cities That Are Most Reliant on Tourism

Tourism at a hotel during the coronavirus
Space_Cat / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on seoClarity.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell to 7.9% during the month of September. This represents a sizable decrease from the record high rate of 14.7% notched in April, but still leaves millions of Americans unemployed.

The hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of last year, more than 14 million people (or 9.4% of all workers) were employed in accommodation and food services, which includes hotels, casinos, restaurants and bars.

However, the industry accounted for almost one-third of all job losses due to the pandemic. BLS data shows that the industry has gained back over 3.7 million jobs since April, but unemployment remains high, at 20.8%.

To find the metropolitan areas that are most reliant on tourism, researchers at seoClarity analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the share of non-farm employment in the accommodations and food services industry.

We also calculated the total number of accommodations and food services workers, total (non-farm) workers across all industries, the overall unemployment rate in April, and the cost of living.

Following are the large metropolitan areas that are most reliant on tourism.

15. Denver

Denver, Colorado
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 9.4%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 144,800
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,536,000
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 12.3%
  • Cost of living: 4.9% above average

14. Houston

Houston, Texas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 9.4%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 295,700
  • Total workers across all industries: 3,156,200
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 14.3%
  • Cost of living: 1.8% above average

13. Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida
Ilya Images / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 9.9%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 136,600
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,384,700
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 13.2%
  • Cost of living: 1% below average

12. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach, Virginia
JoMo333 / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 79,700
  • Total workers across all industries: 795,300
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 12.1%
  • Cost of living: 3% below average

11. Los Angeles

Los Angeles
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 621,400
  • Total workers across all industries: 6,239,500
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 18.8%
  • Cost of living: 17.1% above average

10. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, AZ
Sean-Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10.1%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 39,500
  • Total workers across all industries: 389,600
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 12.8%
  • Cost of living: 6.1% below average

9. Riverside, California

Riverside, California at night
MattGush / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10.1%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 155,200
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,541,800
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 14.7%
  • Cost of living: 7% above average

8. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10.2%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 74,200
  • Total workers across all industries: 724,400
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 11.2%
  • Cost of living: 4.5% below average

7. Miami

Miami, Florida
littleny / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10.4%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 283,700
  • Total workers across all industries: 2,718,100
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 13.4%
  • Cost of living: 9.9% above average

6. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas waterscape
Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 10.8%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 120,500
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,116,000
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 12.2%
  • Cost of living: 0.2% above average

5. San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas outdoors
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 11.2%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 121,300
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,078,700
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 13.3%
  • Cost of living: 6.1% below average

4. San Diego

The skyline of San Diego, where median rent is well below median mortgage payments
Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 11.4%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 171,700
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,503,900
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 15%
  • Cost of living: 16.4% above average

3. New Orleans

New Orleans
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 13.5%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 78,900
  • Total workers across all industries: 583,400
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 19%
  • Cost of living: 5.9% below average

2. Orlando, Florida

Orlando skyline
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 14%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 185,700
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,327,100
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 16.8%
  • Cost of living: 1.3% below average

1. Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in accommodation and food services: 26.2%
  • Total accommodation and food services workers: 270,600
  • Total workers across all industries: 1,034,100
  • Overall unemployment rate (April 2020): 34%
  • Cost of living: 3.2% below average

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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