US economists may have taken a cut-and-dry post-COVID recovery for granted.
A new report from a team of researchers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) took it upon themselves to determine how the country would operate if current spending trends outlasted our present health crisis. Professional, scientific, and technical services enjoyed the biggest job gains in BLS’s hypothetical post-covid-scenario.
If the hospitality and travel industries continue to suffer losses, there could be 3 million fewer jobs in the US before the year 2030.
All of the predictions below, though principled, may change for the better or worse by reason of economic policy prescriptions and or the continued success of vaccine rollout.
The industries where jobs are thriving
Data has shown that the industries that thrived throughout 2020 (Medical, digital transformation, business development, and sales) despite the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), were the ones that we’re able to consistently produce revenue without direct customer interaction.
Some industries may choose to continue to privilege remote operations over traditional work models even if COVID is completely irradicated. The same may be true for the way consumers interact with commerce.
Jobs seeing the biggest losses
Therefore the vast majority of jobs potentially at risk are ones occupied by non-degree holders. Hospitality and travel were deemed to be chief among these.
The only industry that defied this correlation was grocery store jobs. Positions in this industry are expected to grow by nearly 60,000 under BLS hypothetical circumstances.
The authors used current metrics to formulate projections for each impacted industry.
Roughly 370,000 retail jobs are expected to disappear in the near future as a result of increased online shopping. Part of this increase is likely due to limited in-person commercial activity.
If these conditions remained consistent then 370, 000 could rise to around 1.1 million job losses before the end of 2029.
Similarly, restaurant positions, which were projected to take on nearly 876,000 jobs by 2029 before the COVID-19 pandemic, could endure a 12% job decrease under BLS’s “strong” post-pandemic scenario.
Conversely, professional and scientific industries could take on as many as 300,000 more new jobs if current pandemic trends hold up.
Job market growth is rocky
Overall, economic recovery has been slow to start in the US.
The country only added 266,000 new non-farm jobs last month, which is significantly less than estimates that placed job growth around 1 million. Moreover, unemployment rose to 6.1% back in April.
A total of 2.4 million women and a net of 1.8 million men left the labor force between February 2020 and February 2021. This marks a drop of 3.1% and 2.1%, respectively. BLS defines these demographics as those neither working nor actively looking for work.
These indicators are at odds with official unemployment statistics and they have been for the majority of the pandemic it seems.
Some reports have since come out to suggest that US unemployment could have actually been 9.9% back in February as opposed to the 6.6% that was officially reported.
This disparity was even bigger last month, however. In April, the official rate was reported at 14.4%, compared with an adjusted rate of 22.7%.
Between February 2020 and February 2021, employment among low-wage workers was the lowest by a sizeable margin; this is in unison with BLS’s projections.
These sectors fell by 11.7% (from 28.1 million to 24.8 million), last month, compared to a loss of 5.4% among middle-wage workers, whose employment fell by 5.5 million over the same period. Additionally, employment among high-wage workers was basically unchanged, at slightly more than 28 million.
“The reason for this pattern is that the COVID-19 recession is centered in the services sector, especially in the leisure and hospitality industry, which has been hit hardest in the pandemic and accounts for many of the low-wage jobs,” write economist, Rakesh Kochhar, and Jesse Bennett.