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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are itching to put pandemic life behind them, but many of the necessary ingredients for a summer of carefree fun — everything from neighborhood pools to car rentals — still aren't fully available.

The big picture: Labor shortages, scrambled supply chains and simple logistics are all making it harder for a whole range of businesses to meet post-pandemic demand, and that’s making “hot vax summer” a little harder to pull off.

Where it stands: A little vacation after a year stuck at home seems like a simple enough indulgence, but the travel industry is still facing some significant hurdles.

  • Airlines: "It's not like pilots can just flip a switch. And they throw the keys at us and we come back to work, right?" Air Lines Pilot Association President Joe DePete said on the Axios Re:Cap podcast. "There's a lot involved in that. There are security aspects, there are training aspects, there are medical aspects."
  • Rental cars: Rental companies sold off most of their fleets during the pandemic due to a lack of demand. And now a global chip shortage is squeezing the supply of new cars, making it hard for rental agencies to restock as demand increases.
  • Not to mention, everything’s already booked: Hotels, campsites and Airbnb rentals are all hard to come by, especially in the most popular destinations.

Even staycations are subject to some of the same challenges.

  • Live entertainment: Many smaller venues didn't survive the pandemic, and mounting a stage production or a tour for a band is hard work. "Our industry can't just reopen on a week or two weeks notice, we need three to six months," said Dayna Frank, CEO of the historic First Avenue venue in Minneapolis on the Axios Re:Cap podcast last week.
  • Restaurants say they’re having a hard time filling open jobs, although the hospitality sector added more jobs than any other part of the economy last month — 292,000, about two-thirds of which were in "food and drinking places."
  • Pools in many parts of the country are having a hard time hiring lifeguards, and are either limiting their hours or keeping some locations closed as a result.

Yes, but: Post-pandemic job turnover also has many higher-stakes implications, including for child care and health care.

  • "Nurses and dental hygienists, they don't necessarily stay in the industry all that long ... I think we will also have some supply constraints potentially in that industry," said Martin Baily, an economist at the Brookings Institution.

The bottom line: "With people switching occupations, jobs being in different geographic places, and people needing to learn to work with technology in new ways — all of this is going to create a lot of churn and disruption in the near-term, meaning the next year or two or three," said Susan Lund, a leading partner for the McKinsey Global Institute.

Go deeper

Jun 11, 2021 - Axios Denver

Denver-area lifeguard shortage leads to shorter pool hours

As temperatures rise and pools and lakes open up, cities in the Denver metro area and throughout Colorado are reporting shortages in lifeguards.

The big picture: It's a national issue striking summer hotspots in states across America, including in Minneapolis and Iowa, our Axios Local colleagues report.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 11, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Oil thirst projected to surpass pre-COVID mark by the end of 2022

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Global oil demand will exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year, the International Energy Agency estimated Friday morning.

Why it matters: When demand went into a historic decline last year, there was lots of discussion about the revival timeline — and whether it would ever come all the way back.

30 mins ago - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.

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