Payne, along with her 27-year-old daughter Kipati and 28-year-old son Atrayu, gather in their North Philadelphia living room, with the household bills in hand. She reviews the mortgage payments and her retirement and savings accounts with her children.
“We’re going into our fourth month of not paying our mortgage,” Payne tells them. “I was hoping to pass on my retirement savings to you, but it looks like we’re not going to have that. That’s gone — because we’re using it to get by.”
Payne, 51, a single parent, recently received a letter from Marriott, which she reads out loud to her children: “We’re extending your layoff until December 31, 2020.”
The US leisure and hospitality industry lost 7.5 million jobs in April, accounting for half of all jobs in that sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Recovery has been slow, with only about half of those jobs lost early on in the pandemic added back.
In a new survey by the American Hotel Lodging Association, 74% of US hotels say more layoffs are coming if the industry doesn’t get additional federal assistance.
“It’s scary because I’m waiting, but there’s no guarantee I’m going to come back,” said Payne.
Payne has lost not one, but two jobs. Her part-time job as a bartender is also on hold, she says. Before the pandemic, she was working seven days a week to pay for her new home and feed her children. Her son Atrayu is autistic and her daughter is his home health aide.
Payne, who has arthritis and a heart condition, is also nervous about getting sick from Covid-19 and fears the worst.
“I’m trying to prepare my daughter — how to pay the mortgage, how we pay the bills — so that she can be the head of the household because my son cannot. I’m preparing for a death sentence financially, as well as physically,” she said.
‘We live and die’ by conventions
Hotel occupancy is at 50% nationwide, but just 27% in Philadelphia, according to STR, a global analytics firm that tracks the hospitality industry.
And that could get worse. Every winter hotels in Philadelphia expect occupancy to dip, but their saving grace has been conventions. Several hotels, including the Marriott, are attached to the Philadelphia Convention Center, which is often booked a decade in advance, according to the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association. But with gatherings of more than 25 people prohibited in the city, the conventions have come to