That’s how many job openings there were at hotels, restaurants, and bars in March, the second-most for any month in the last 20 years, according to a government report released Tuesday, highlighting the industry’s struggle to begin rebuilding as the economy recovers from the pandemic.
Open positions in the accommodation and food services industry grew by 185,000 in March, a 22.9% increase from February’s number, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. At 993,000, there has only been one month with more openings—more than 1 million in January 2019—in 244 months’ worth of data.
Hard hit by the pandemic, the accommodation and food services industry—which includes high-contact businesses like drinking places, full-service restaurants, resorts, and motels—lost 6.9 million jobs during the first months of the pandemic. The industry remains 2.2 million jobs below its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020, even after having accounted for nearly all of last month’s gain of 266,000 jobs.
Many businesses have reported trouble finding workers, and economists have said that expanded federal unemployment insurance benefits, anxieties about the pandemic, an inability to find childcare, or workers holding out for better wages or even reconsidering their career choices may be behind the shortage. In total, there were 8.1 million job openings in the U.S. as of the last day of March, the most since the government began keeping tally in December 2000. There are 9.8 million people unemployed in the U.S.