Study Finds California’s Tourism Industry Poor In Wages, Great For Mobility

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California’s beaches are a highlight in the tourism industry. The west coast’s warm summers make it a great place to share frozen treats with the family — most ice cream is produced in June — and the beautiful waters entreat scuba divers, an activity in which 3.27 million people partook in 2015.

But California’s tourism industry doesn’t always pay as well it seems. So why isn’t the industry suffering from a severe lack of workers?

The answer is simple: millennials. According to a study commissioned by Visit California, a non-profit organization, the California travel and tourism industry is far more likely to hire those who’ve recently graduated than any other industry. For those young Californians fresh out of school who were previously unemployed, the tourism industry serves as a stepping stone into the working world.

According to the study, approximately 40% of those working in the $124 billion travel and tourism industries were not previously in the labor forces in contrast to other industries of relative size.

“The study echoed the findings of previous studies that concluded that travel-related businesses, including hotels, theme parks and restaurants, typically pay low wages and rely heavily on young, unskilled workers but offer good starting points for higher-paying careers,” reported the LA Times.

In the tourism industry, almost all workers were offered few work hours, were paid less, and had a high rate of turnover. Suffering through such a job may seem like a poor choice, but for new graduates and the unemployed, it may be a surprising investment.

“Fifteen percent of California travel/tourism workers who moved to a job in a different industry increased their hourly wage by more than 50%,” said the study. “This sort of favorable outcome is consistent with arguments that travel-related jobs provide a path to upward mobility.”

Thus, although the wage and position of employment may not be satisfactory, the California tourism industry is doing well by allowing for dual benefits. The industry profits off its temporary labor force while its labor force benefits from the industry’s addition to their resume. While certainly an unusual business deal, the future of California’s tourism industry will be interesting to watch in the years to come.

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