The American Hotel and Lodging Association reported Monday that 67% of hoteliers surveyed Jan. 8-18 were short on staff. The survey found that 82% of operators had increased wages, 59% offered more flexible work hours and 33% expanded benefits to fill the openings.

“The hotel workforce situation is slowly improving thanks to record-high average wages and better benefits and upward mobility than ever before,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. “But nationwide labor shortages are preventing hoteliers from filling tens of thousands of jobs, and that problem will weigh heavily on our members until Congress takes action.”

According to AHLA, the average of nine unfilled positions per hotel last month was up from seven a year ago, as more than 70,000 hotel jobs remain unfilled nationwide. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows hotel wages rose to an all-time high of $23.91 per hour in December.

To fill the openings, Mr. Rogers noted that his group has lobbied Congress to pass legislation that would expand the pool of legal immigrants and asylum seekers eligible for jobs.

The industry has struggled to replace frontline hospitality and food service workers who did not return from furloughs during pandemic quarantines. Some hotels have employed robots and installed automated kiosks to replace housekeepers, front desk workers and servers who switched to work-from-home careers. In 2020, COVID quarantines drove U.S. hotel revenues to a record-low $85.5 billion in revenues, a 50% drop from 2019. Although profits later recovered, hotel unions have taken advantage of a tight labor