Economic Impact

Tourism & Hospitality

As attractions, restaurants, shops, and hotels were unable to welcome visitors due to COVID-19, Pennsylvania's previously thriving travel & tourism industry was no longer a significant economic driver. Spending by domestic and international travelers declined by 44%, shuttering many local businesses and putting residents out of work. 

The US Travel Association has provided the following statistics to explain the importance of travel to Pennsylvania. In 2019:

• Domestic and international travelers spent $30.3 billion exploring our state

• For every $1 million spent in Pennsylvania by domestic and international travelers, 7.8 jobs are created

• The 236,196 travel-supported jobs represented 4.5% of Pennsylvania’s total private industry employment, without which our unemployment rate of 4.5% would have been 8.8% of the labor force

• Travel spending generated $3.9 billion to federal, state, and local governments, which help fund jobs and public programs such as police, firefighters, teachers, road projects, and convention centers.

Cumberland Valley is split between two congressional districts: PA-10 and PA-13. Based on information from the US Travel Association, in PA-10, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.8 billion in spending and provided 14,813 jobs with a payroll of $535.3 million. In PA-13, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.3 billion in spending and provided 12,010 jobs with a payroll of $394.3 million.

Click here to read more about the positive impacts of tourism and hospitality in the Cumberland Valley including job growth and revitalization and preservation efforts.

During National Travel & Tourism Week from May 2-8, 20201, we celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses, and quality of life. This year’s theme -- “The Power of Travel” -- recognizes the industry’s role in bringing back our vibrant communities, restoring the U.S. economy, rebuilding our workforce, and reconnecting America.

Throughout 2021, CAEDC and the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau have worked with community partners to promote our local businesses and encourage safe travel to the region. We continue to recognize the essential role that all hospitality businesses contribute to a vibrant quality of life in Cumberland Valley and look forward to harnessing "The Power of Travel" to welcome back visitors and help to reinvigorate our community.

Small Businesses

Small businesses (less than 500 employees) have a powerful impact on the local economy and quality of life. They have generated 64 percent of new jobs since 1995, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Read about how these businesses, in general, support and shape their communities.


According to the National Retail Federation, retail is the nation's largest private-sector employer, supporting 52 million jobs in communities across the country. In Pennsylvania,

  • 162.8K retail establishments

  • 1.2 million jobs as a result of direct retail employment and 2 million (or 25% of all jobs in PA) jobs supported by the retail industry

  • $51.3 billion direct impact on GDP

  • $141.7 billion total impact on GDP

  • $35.8 billion direct labor income

  • $91.7 billion total labor income

Restaurant Industry

Click here to read more about the importance of local restaurants to Cumberland Valley's economy.

The statistics below show how the restaurant industry, in particular, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • According to the December 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 3.9 million nationally, or 23.2%, since February 2020. In December alone, employment in leisure and hospitality declined by 498,000, with three-quarters of the decrease in food services and drinking places (-372,000).

  • The National Restaurant Association reports that restaurant sales deteriorated rapidly in the 4th quarter of 2020, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. After reaching a pandemic-era peak of $55.7 billion in September, eating and drinking place sale losses accelerated each month during the 4th quarter, edging down 0.3% in October, 3.6% in November, and 4.5% in December. As of December, eating and drinking place sales stood more than $14 billion – or 22% – below their pre-coronavirus levels in January and February. Overall, total restaurant and foodservice sales were down $240 billion from expected levels in 2020. This includes the sales shortfall at eating and drinking places, plus a sharp reduction in spending at foodservice operations in sectors such as lodging, arts/entertainment/recreation, education, healthcare, and retail.

Monthly Restaurant Sales Graph Chart

  • The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association posted the National Restaurant Association Economic Impact Survey Results (released 12/7/20) pointing to continued deteriorating economic conditions and indicating that 48% of Pennsylvania operators say they are considering temporarily closing their restaurant until the COVID-19 pandemic passes. Other highlights:

    • 45% of Pennsylvania operators say it is unlikely their restaurant will still be in business six months from now if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.

    • 80% of Pennsylvania operators say their current staffing level is lower than what it would normally be in the absence of COVID-19. 59% of restaurants are currently more than 20% below normal staffing levels.

    • 65% of Pennsylvania operators expect their staffing levels to decline during the next 3 months. Only 1% of operators expect their staffing levels will rise during the next 3 months.

  • In mid-February 2021, the National Restaurant Association released the latest results of its Economic Impact Survey both nationally and Pennsylvania-specific. Highlights for Pennsylvania include:

    • 93% of restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume in January was lower than it was in January 2020. Overall, sales were down 38% between January 2020 and January 2021.

    • Among Pennsylvania operators who say their off-premises business increased compared to pre-COVID levels, 80% say their higher off-premises sales have made up less than 30% of their lost on-premises sales.

    • 20% of Pennsylvania operators say they will 'probably' or 'definitely' be closed within 3 months if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.

    • 62%  of operators are currently more than 20% below normal staffing levels.