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COVID-19 Job Trends: Week of March 16, 2020

Job ads have plummeted in the United States over the past several weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. Trends, however, are pointing to areas of growth in the economy as well as areas of high stress.

From the week of March 2 to March 9, ad volume in the United States declined 12%. The following week of March 16 saw a further drop of 31%. As detailed below, this contraction has largely been across the board, though with some exceptions.

Occupation Trends

As pointed out last week, both the accommodation and food services industries are sustaining job losses that are being accompanied by sharp declines in new job postings.

 

 

The declines in ads among common hotel and lodging occupations has been pronounced over the last two weeks. Online ads for maids and housekeeping cleaners dropped by close to half over the last two weeks while hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks contracted nearly three-quarters.

 

The declines among food service occupations have also been steep. Job postings for waiters and waitresses, for example, plummeted 87% over the last two weeks from 5,642 the week of March 2 to 726 the week of March 16.

 

 

While some retail jobs showed declines the week of March 9, these jobs expanded last week. Retail salespersons, first-line supervisors of retail sales workers, and cashiers all saw increases in job ads the week of March 16. Walmart, CVS, Kroger, and Dollar General, for example, are among retailers that have begun massive hiring efforts to accommodate shifting demand. Other retail jobs that have had job ad increases include stock clerks and order fillers.

Online Job Ads, United States by Week Posted
SOC Major Occupation Groups Feb 17 Feb 24 Mar 2 Mar 9 Mar 16 4-Week % Change
Management 49,996 53,231 49,065 47,985 30,778 -38%
Business and Financial Operations 42,917 46,080 44,294 41,244 26,299 -39%
Computer and Mathematical 60,074 88,072 72,293 63,749 48,926 -19%
Architecture and Engineering 13,328 12,425 12,592 11,458 7,420 -44%
Life, Physical, and Social Science 7,378 7,777 7,194 6,351 4,553 -38%
Community and Social Service 20,287 17,331 17,387 15,846 10,672 -47%
Legal 3,638 3,572 3,429 4,034 1,610 -56%
Education, Training, and Library 16,721 17,781 17,911 18,838 9,457 -43%
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 11,401 10,557 10,818 11,990 6,001 -47%
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical 69,880 59,928 61,152 58,930 41,863 -40%
Healthcare Support 20,745 18,186 18,199 16,522 12,704 -39%
Protective Service 9,258 8,371 8,759 7,265 5,986 -35%
Food Preparation and Serving Related 46,794 44,301 49,580 37,335 19,993 -57%
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 18,780 19,679 18,324 16,876 10,629 -43%
Personal Care and Service 14,880 19,811 14,353 12,702 7,699 -48%
Sales and Related 88,942 77,731 81,520 70,544 68,093 -23%
Office and Administrative Support 74,741 74,119 74,983 70,112 43,891 -41%
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry 439 460 512 379 306 -30%
Construction and Extraction 12,432 12,917 14,418 10,996 5,733 -54%
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair 27,957 23,947 23,842 20,546 13,573 -51%
Production 20,193 18,281 18,142 16,890 10,782 -47%
Transportation and Material Moving 40,713 45,756 61,584 38,949 29,139 -28%
Source: JobsEQ

Despite a smattering of increases among detailed occupations, every major occupation group posted declines in job ads over the past four weeks. These changes varied from a 19% drop among computer and mathematical occupations to a 57% contraction in the food preparation and serving related group.

These universal declines raise the question of what long-term impacts the COVID-19 outbreak will have on the economy. Among companies postponing hiring efforts, for example, to what extent will these businesses accelerate hiring following a return to normalcy to make up for lack of hiring during the crisis? Alternatively, how many of these potential job gains will be permanently delayed?

About the Data

All data above are derived from JobsEQ, the Real-Time Intelligence online job ad data set, pulled from over 30,000 websites and updated daily. Each week of ads is defined as new online ads that start between Monday and the following Sunday, inclusive. All ad counts represent deduplicated figures. The relationship between ad counts and actual hires is described here.

Many extraneous factors can affect short-term volume of online job postings. Thus, while the changes noted above should be watched over time to confirm the impacts, such a short-term snapshot can offer an early indication of labor market shifts, especially valuable in this time of unprecedented economic disruption.

 

 

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