The US Department of Commerce released data on Wednesday showing the nation’s Travel and Tourism Industry benefited from a 3.5% increase in spending in 2011, creating over 103,000 new jobs – an increase in 1.5%. Data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Wisconsin seriously lags behind the national trend in Tourism, losing jobs by the thousands in 2011. All this as the Walker budget increased the State Tourism budget by $5 million in 2011, while making unprecedented cuts in Public Education spending.
A synopsis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2010-2012 shows that from January of 2010 (250.1 thousand jobs) through December 2010 (251.6 thousand jobs), Wisconsin began making modest gains in tourism jobs – coming out of a nearly three-year decline. After consistent growth in tourism jobs from March of 2002 (237.8 thousand) through March 2007 (262.7 thousand), Wisconsin tourism was hit hard by the recession.
From March 2007 through November 2009, Wisconsin tourism lost over 13,000 jobs, bottoming out at 249.6 thousand in November 2009. 2010 showed modest growth, growing from 250.1 thousand in January to 251.6 thousand in December 2010.
From January 2011 (251.9 thousand) through December 2011 (243.5 thousand) , the Wisconsin Tourism Industry hemorrhaged over 8000 jobs. Even if preliminary January 2012 numbers stand at 246.8 thousand jobs; this represents the lowest numbers of Tourism-related jobs since August 2003. At the height of recession job-losses, Tourism in Wisconsin still employed 249.6 thousand people – 3 thousand more than January of 2012.
In Wisconsin, the average Service Occupation employee earns $11.04/hour, or $22,950/year. The average Food Preparation employee makes $9.66/hr, or $20,090/year, according to the most recent Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The lowest number of Tourism jobs since pre-recession. With fewer manufacturing jobs, tourism is one of the last employment opportunities for non-degreed job seekers willing to work their way up in a highly competitive, low-paying, low-benefit industry. The data show even this “opportunity is evaporating under Scott Walker. Is this how your plan is working, Governor?