Ask the Indeed Economist: Which Job Sectors Have Fared Better During Coronavirus?

Last week, the U.S. received a shock when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the monthly jobs report: Within a month, the unemployment rate had jumped by more than 10%, from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April. 

April’s unemployment rate was the highest on record since the BLS started publishing the statistic in 1948. Economists are still determining what this means, and the extent of the impact may not be known for years. Even so, in these hard times, it remains a fact that some employers are still hiring and that opportunities exist for job seekers. 

We sat down with Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel, who has studied Indeed’s new job postings in depth, to get her take on what’s going on in different industries right now. 

What are the key findings?

No sector has been unaffected by the coronavirus. In some, like tourism, the impact is obvious: With travel severely limited, the closure of many businesses and health experts advising people to stay at home, hardly anybody is going on vacation right now. In other job sectors, however, the impact can seem almost counterintuitive. For instance, although we are in the midst of a global pandemic, healthcare jobs have actually decreased as a pause on elective surgeries has impacted demand.

But certain industries are faring better than others. In order to find out which, AnnElizabeth measured how new job postings by industry on Indeed are growing relative to last year. She found that new jobs in the tech and healthcare industries have seen smaller downturns in postings

According to AnnElizabeth, “The impact by industry largely depends on how much the spread of coronavirus plays into the business model. For example, childcare — which saw nearly a standstill in hiring — involves a lot of physical proximity and contact. Tech jobs like software development, on the other hand, can often be done remotely.”

What does this mean for employers?

While some companies are expanding hiring and seeing increased demand for their products, it is undeniable that things are hard for many employers right now. Though we can’t predict where events will lead us or how long the economic slowdown will last, the ongoing efforts to limit the spread of the virus have undoubtedly impacted businesses’ budgets and their bottom line. 

However, as AnnElizabeth says: “Poor performance is not a reflection of a business; it’s a reflection of a public health crisis that has drastically changed the environment they function in.”

Meanwhile, many businesses can’t currently function the way they used to, and some are playing a difficult waiting game. While it’s difficult to gauge what will happen in the future, some job sectors may see an uptick in business sooner, or may even be able to hire at a reduced rate. Others may have to wait for restrictions to lift before deciding what to do.

For example, though places like dental offices and beauty salons can’t operate normally right now, demand for those services will likely return when it is deemed safe to visit them again. At that point, there may even be a surge…

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