Travel Employment Ends 2011 on High Note

The U.S. labor market received good news last week: Nonfarm payroll employment added 200,000 jobs in December, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which announced that the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, its lowest level in nearly three years.

"Month by month, industry by industry, and state by state, America's labor market grew stronger in 2011," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement. "We're now seeing sustained job growth across almost every industry. We created nearly 2 million private sector jobs in 2011, and the unemployment rate fell in 45 states and the District of Columbia last year. Additionally, the number of mass layoffs continued to decline, with 14 of 19 industries reporting a decrease in layoffs over the year."

Job growth was especially strong in the travel industry, the U.S. Travel Association pointed out.

"December was a good month for the travel industry," said David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at the U.S. Travel Association. "After falling two of the three prior months, employment in the travel industry rebounded in December and rose by 7,000 to a level of 7,528,000."

According to Huether, the travel industry accounted for 7 percent of the 1.6 million jobs created during the past 12 months. What's more, the travel industry expanded its employment base by 119,000 over the past year — doubling the jobs created by construction and real estate industries combined.

"Supporting good-paying American jobs that cannot be outsourced abroad, the travel industry has created jobs at a faster rate (2.9 percent) than the rest of the economy (2 percent) since the overall employment recovery began in March of 2010," Huether concluded. "Increasing travel to and within the United States is a key ingredient to providing the job opportunities for the 13 million Americans who continue to be unemployed."