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Jobs and Workforce

Jobs & Workforce

California's resilient workforce

Californians find opportunities within the state’s burgeoning travel industry
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Travel and Tourism presents some of the most varied and unique job opportunities of any industry in the United States. The tourism workforce was battered by the global coronavirus pandemic, but the industry is returning to 2019 levels.

Record employment lasted a decade
In 2019, the travel industry was responsible for nearly 1.2 million California jobs -- nearly three times more than were employed by agriculture and 40 percent more than worked in construction. California’s tourism workforce grew by an average 3.2 percent each year between 2009-2019.

California’s leisure and hospitality workforce was the hardest hit employment sector because of the pandemic. More than 613,000 California tourism jobs were lost as tourism businesses across the state were forced to shut down or vastly reduce operations, but the workforce is slowly recovering. 

Jobs, 2022
Employee Earnings, 2022
New Jobs YOY
Personal and Professional Development
Tourism is one of the most accessible industries in which to work and boasts comparatively low barriers to entry. According to a Rand Corp. study, 4 in 10 workers were either unemployed or in school the year before coming to work in travel and tourism. Nationally, 38 percent of all first jobs were in travel and tourism, double the proportion of any other industry. 

Working in tourism early in life builds important skills – customer service, communications, problem solving – that lead to successful careers. 

Workers find the flexibility, hours, competitive wages and opportunities for upward mobility to be appealing factors that often lead to lifelong careers in travel. In 2017, one-fourth of tourism employees were earning more than $20 per hour; 12 percent made more than $35 per hour (compared to a 7 percent national average).

Nationally, those who started in tourism and then got college degrees eventually attained a maximum annual salary of $125,400 by the time they were 50. Those starting in tourism and got no degree also did well – averaging $82,400. 
Jobs for Tomorrow
Today, there are more than 100 Tourism Business Improvement Districts in California alone. These organizations help shepherd the growth of local and regional tourism economies in partnership with destination marketing organizations, hotels and other regional tourism businesses. Their continued growth underscores the level of importance local communities and their workforces place on travel.

Tourism creates jobs at a rate higher than many other sectors. From 2010 to 2016, travel employment grew by 17 percent, versus 13 percent in the rest of the private sector. As a result, the travel industry generated 9 percent of all new jobs in the United States during this period.

Explore in-depth research and insights into national and global tourism: