MGM Resorts notified 18,000 furloughed workers — roughly one-fifth of its U.S. workforce — that their jobs are gone, the casino giant confirmed Friday.

The hospitality industry has been battered during the pandemic amid a plunge in recreational travel and as many Americans steer clear of hotels, restaurants and other venues where large concentrations of people meet. MGM warned in May that the uncertain recovery for leisure and travel spending could lead to permanent job cuts this year.

“While we have safely resumed operations at many of our properties and have returned tens of thousands of our colleagues to work, our industry — and country — continues to be impacted by the pandemic, and we have not returned to full operating capacity,” chief executive Bill Hornbuckle said in a letter to staff.

Hornbuckle noted that federal law requires the company to send layoff notices to workers who have been furloughed for six months. Monday, Aug. 31, marks the end of that period. But MGM said it intends to rehire workers once business picks back up.

Laid off employees will have their health insurance coverage extended through the end of September, the company said. And workers who are brought back will maintain their seniority and have their benefits reinstated immediately.

MGM’s cutbacks follow waves of layoffs that have cost millions of Americans their jobs and ushered the country into a recession. Stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic devastated businesses and took an outsized toll on such industries as travel, hospitality and retail. The road to economic recovery has been slow: This week alone, a half-dozen major companies announced layoffs, including Coca-Cola, Salesforce, American Airlines and Bed Bath & Beyond. On Thursday, Lord & Taylor announced it was headed for liquidation; the nation’s oldest department store chain was among more than a dozen retailers that have filed for bankruptcy since the outbreak.

Last week, roughly 1 million people applied for unemployment insurance for the first time, according to data released by the Department of Labor. Overall, about 27 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefit.

Before covid-19 struck, MGM employed about 70,000 workers in the U.S. The company closed all of its domestic properties in March, and initially furloughed 62,000 people, most of whom have been called back to work. MGM operates more than a dozen hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and several others across the U.S. All but two of its properties have reopened. But even the locations that are welcoming guests must limit their capacity, and live events and convention operations have not resumed.