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March Job Posting Trends: The Economic Ripple Effect of COVID-19

April 6, 2020 by Gwen Burrow

COVID-19 is creating ups and downs in job posting trends. Overall, job postings dropped considerably in March, accelerating to -32% compared to the average weekly for both January and February 2020. (Explore our new job posting dashboard to interact with the data.)

% change in average weekly job postings in March compared to January/February

Yet while many employers are being forced to let people go and even more are in a hiring freeze, others are scrambling to fill thousands of critical new positions. (See companies that are mass hiring, like Amazon, Walmart, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, and Pizza Hut.) We see many correlating increases and decreases in March’s job postings trends…plus a few curveballs we didn’t anticipate.

 

Online shopping leads the charge with increased job postings

Industries with increasing postings in March compared to January/February

First, a little good news. Not surprisingly, online shopping (+75% growth in March compared to January and February) has seen the biggest spike in job postings as online retailers (Amazon, eBay, Etsy) race to hire extra talent to handle the tsunami of stay-at-home shoppers.

The increase in postings for insurance carriers (+27%) is likely due to the times. During economic upheaval, financial jobs can be in high demand. Personal financial advisors, for example, grew faster than any other job during the recession.

People also apparently flocked to hardware stores (+21%) to snag materials for those home-improvement projects, and stocking up on everyday goods at department stores.

And what about truck transportation? Shouldn’t we see truck drivers among the industries with increased postings? Oddly enough, as you can see in the full chart at the end, job postings for truck drivers—some of the unsung heroes of the pandemic—actually decreased (-23%) in March, even as many drivers are working 24 hours straight to deliver goods to stores and families. Are we surprised to see a decline in postings then? Well, a bit, but the trucking industry is tricky anyway (from a posting point of view) and tends to over-post.

 

Travel & tourism industries see massive decline in job postings

Industries with decreasing postings in March compared to January/February

As life and travel grind to a halt, we’re not surprised to see a massive slowdown in job postings for industries that move: cruise liners, commercial airlines, car dealerships, aircraft equipment manufacturing, etc. Hotels and resorts are also going into hibernation.

 

Translators get the biggest spike in job postings

Occupations with increasing postings in March compared to January/February

There is acute need for translators and interpreters as hospitals serve non-English-speaking patients. And with the plethora of news conferences, sign language interpreters are also in demand.

Freight and stock-moving workers (+23%) are in increasing demand as companies like Amazon hustle to deliver goods that people would otherwise being going to the local store to get. Indeed, the pandemic just might be a boon for trade and logistics workers as a whole, although it is understandable that many of them would prefer to stay out of the way of the virus.

It’s also interesting to note that demand for photographers, film editors, and AV techs went up. One of the big impacts of the coronavirus has been the unrelenting 24/7 news cycle, with intense need for people to get out and cover story after story. Such times are boom times for the news and other organizations that need to collect lots of content for their stories.

Finally, there was also a lot of demand for emergency response supervisors. This should come as no surprise.

 

Sorry, travel guides and oil/gas workers….

Occupations with decreasing postings in March compared to January/February

Like we saw with travel and leisure travel and transportation industries, tour guides and baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges are also publishing fewer postings as millions of Americans discover what staycation is all about.

The decline in postings for oil & gas reflects a genuine slump in demand for oil & gas workers. Low oil prices and COVID-19 together are acting as a “double whammy” for the oil & gas workforce, and many companies are proceeding with temporary layoffs.

Teachers and tutors are naturally seeing lower demand as schools close shop all over the country.

 

March job postings by industry

Here are the job posting trends for all industries. (Note that this chart uses official NAICS titles, which vary slightly from the colloquial names in our analysis.)

Industries by % change in postings in March compared to January/February

 

Conclusion

As the virus situation reaches its peak and starts to decline, there will be unprecedented focus on how to right the economy, especially with US jobless claims now totaling 10 million. For now, we will continue to do everything we can to report on job posting trends (and other data), help people strategize on reemployment initiatives, and assist regions and organizations in developing strategies. There are, and will be, a lot of people who need help. If you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know.

For the most up-to-date look at how the labor market is responding to COVID-19, visit our free job posting dashboard. You can also find more COVID-19 research, tools, and webinars on our COVID-19 resources page

A version of this article was originally published on Josh Bersin

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