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Hotel Lawyers: How bad is it? And how bad will it get?

6 February 2009

Hotel Lawyers: It’s not getting any better yet. The New York Times announced this morning that almost 600,000 jobs were lost in January 2009, bringing total unemployment in the U.S. to 7.6%, the highest level in 16 years. The government also revised estimates of job losses for prior periods, adding another 400,000 job losses to prior estimates.

This brings the total job losses since December 2007, when the recession began, to more than 3.6 million jobs. Just to put that in perspective, the 2007 census said the entire population of Los Angeles was only 3.8 million people. So our job losses over the last 13 months are now almost as big as the City of Los Angeles.

What are the ramifications of that for the hospitality industry?

It’s a pretty safe bet that most of the 3.8 million people who lost their jobs in the last year won’t be taking extended vacations and spending a lot of money at hotels and resorts in the near term. Each of the workers who lost their jobs also has at least three or four friends who are now worried about losing their jobs and aren’t going to be spending freely in the malls or dining in restaurants as much as they might have in the past. And the employers who had to lay off these workers are likely looking for other ways to save cash by cutting back on their travel expenses purchasing, and manufacturing capacity. All of this portends continued declines in both leisure and business travel and falling revenues for the hospitality industry.

This is just the reality show underneath the data and projections that Mark Woodworth of PKF Consulting shared with us a few days ago. See “Latest insights from JMBM’s hotel attorneys and PKF Consulting on what lies ahead for the hotel industry”

Where does it go from here?

The PKF data projects a “protracted” period of severe pain for the industry, as was also reflected in many of the sound bytes from industry leaders at the ALIS Conference.

Unfortunately, the New York Times also reported that the nation’ s gross domestic product or GDP declined at a 3.8% annual rate. Experts had expected a decline of 5% to 6%, but consumer spending collapsed so fast that manufacturers could not cut production fast enough, and inventories built up. That makes an even bigger GDP decline likely in the near future.

This is going to be a rough ride.

Other articles on the Global Financial Crisis & Recovery and Outlook & Trends

For other articles about the Global Financial Crisis and where this all takes us, here are some recent articles and links. You can also go to Global Financial Crisis & Recovery and Outlook & Trends on

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $50 billion of hotel transactions and more than 100 hotel mixed-used deals in the last 5 years alone. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $50 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,000 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at or 310.201.3526.

Jim Butler is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers and lenders. Jim leads JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® — a team of 50 seasoned professionals with more than $50 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 1,000 properties located around the globe. In the last 5 years alone, Jim and his team have assisted clients with more than 100 hotel mixed-use projects — frequently integrated with energizing lifestyle elements.

Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them.

Contact him at or 310.201.3526. For his views on current industry issues, visit