From all the hype and trend pieces around Airbnb and other online room-rental platforms, you might have the impression that the hotel industry is in some kind of severe slump. But as this great chart from Bill McBride and Calculated Risk shows, exactly the opposite is the case.
America has never had so few vacant hotel rooms:
So what's behind this?
Well, first and foremost it's the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession. There are more people alive today than there were in 2007 or 2000, so even though the labor market isn't as tight as it was in those peak years, there are more total employed people.
But the second factor is that we've had very little new hotel construction in the past few years. That largely speaks to both the severity of the recession and its specific nature arising in the construction and construction-finance sectors. And that's why the hotel room shortage ultimately should turn out to be good news for the broader economy. It's clear at this point that there are markets in the United States where it would be profitable to build more hotels, which would mean more construction jobs in the short term and more hospitality employment in the longer term.