ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows for the month of April, 331,000 people gained employment in the leisure and hospitality industry nationwide. 

What You Need To Know

  • 331,000 people gained employment in the leisure and hospitality industry nationwide

  •  Currently, 181,000 people are employed in Florida in the leisure and hospitality industry

  • While that number is increasing, it is still far below the 278,000 people employed in the industry before the pandemic

Employment in the hospitality and leisure sector of Central Florida has increased the last few months, though not as much as one might think.

After about a year of sitting on the sidelines, waiting to go back to work, Koko Monroe is back to her old job at the Outback Steakhouse inside Orlando International Airport.

“The first week I was back, I worked almost 50 hours,” Monroe said. “Thats how insanely busy it was, I couldn’t believe it.”

Monroe has been taking orders once again for about a month now. The tips are great, but said she needs help now more than ever.

“I am so appreciative to have my job back.” Monroe said. “In the same breath, it is extremely stressful because we are so incredibly busy that I am working sometimes 10 hour shifts.”

Roger Lear, the president of, said people looking for work now should take advantage of the power they have, while they have it.

“You are probably going to be able to get a preferred schedule, probably increased pay,” Lear said. “You’ll be able to get signing bonuses and retention bonuses, and every company is after you.”

Here is a breakdown of the job market for leisure and hospitality in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties:

  • In January of this year 169,200 people were employed
  • In February that number went up to 178,100
  • In March the number went up another 3,000

However, in March of 2020 before the pandemic began, 278,000 people had jobs, which means there are still at least 97,000 jobs to make up from the peak of last year.

“It’s there right now, it’s amazing that it looks like a switch,” Lear said. “If you want to work, you can get a job.”

Florida is continuing to open, but now businesses need the workforce to keep up with the demand as they try to get back on track.

It’s tough to say right now how many of the 331,000 employed across the country in hospitality and leisure were hired in Central Florida. The official breakdown will not be released until June 2. 

As for the hospitality industry, Marriott Hotels says they currently have 1,600 jobs open in Florida.