How COVID has impacted the job market

Last updated: May 12, 2024
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Elyssa Duncan
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How COVID has impacted the job market
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There’s still work to be had in this coronavirus job market

One of the major impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been effect that public health restrictions have had on various industries across the country. Though many sectors have been affected, there is still work to be had in this difficult economy. It seems that flexibility will be the magic keyword for jobholders to survive in this pandemic-ridden workforce.

Job sectors minimally impacted by COVID-19

It became clear which jobs would be mostly unaffected by the shutdown of the economy early on in the pandemic. After an initial reset, several job segments have found their new groove.

  • Essential services

Healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store, and drugstore workers emerged as the frontline workers of the pandemic. These jobs have remained in high-demand.

  • Supply chain

Supply chain refers to the system of getting goods from manufacturers to buyers. As people stayed home more, buying patterns changed dramatically. As a result, the systems of delivering goods directly to customers has been utilized more than ever.

Consumer buying habits have pivoted more toward online shopping than before, warehouse jobs are in demand, offering premium wages and signing bonuses. Additionally, jobs in ports, transportation, and delivery are booming to help keep up with the demand.

  • Agriculture and food production

The USDA reports that while restaurant sales dropped drastically, especially in the early months of COVID, at-home food sales rocketed. Grocery sales in 2018, for example, averaged around 48% of total household food sales; in April 2020, those sales were a whopping 66%, which put enormous pressure on food producers to switch from packaging for food-service customers to packaging for at-home consumers.

  • Construction

After brief shutdowns, the business of building has continued. While large commercial construction has slowed due to reduced demand for new office and retail spaces, infrastructure projects like roads and bridges have boomed, as well as residential projects as people move from urban centers.

  • Call Center

Most call center jobs have been able to transition from a traditional office setting to work-from-home status thanks to modern-day technology. As the importance of online commerce became more apparent, so did the importance of having customer service representatives ready to assist customers.

Job sectors heavily impacted by COVID-19

A full 60% of our country's workers can’t work from home. While media has been focusing on the benefits of many companies being able to use technology to reconfigure how they do business, the other side of the story is that the absence of commuters in offices means lost jobs from the host of services that supported those professionals. Most of these COVID-19 job losses affect hourly workers.

  • Transit

Bus, subway, taxi, plane, rail, and rideshare travel all experienced major workforce reductions as demand fell.

  • Food service

Restaurants, cafeterias, and catering services have seen most of their businesses shift to take-out only with some intermittent inside dining available. And, unfortunately, some restaurants have closed down all together.

  • Cleaning and maintenance services

With employees working from home, offices are closed, making these building services unnecessary.

  • Retail

Shops that support those lunchtime errands and after-work shopping trips no longer have their normal clientele. Many of them have had to close.

  • Personal care services

Nail salons, barber shops, and dry cleaners rely on foot traffic from people leading busy lives. Many are suffering from reduced demand.

The future of jobs post-COVID

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the economic fallout will be a few years from now, economists have a few ideas of what’s going to happen.

Businesses that embrace remote workforces see their employees moving out of urban centers out to smaller communities. The BBC reports that only 12% of those workers want to return to the office, while a whopping 72% want a hybrid work-from-home and office combination.

The long-term effect of that should be two-fold: The cost of living in urban centers should fall as higher earners leave the city, and more hourly support jobs should follow the professional workers to smaller towns, creating perhaps more diverse workforces in all communities.

COVID-19 has made its mark on the U.S. workforce. As you can see from the above, the best bet for hourly workers now is to find work in growth areas like warehouse, grocery store, delivery service, food production, and construction.



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