May 6, 2020 by Luke Mason
COVID-19 and the great shutdown continue to impact job posting trends. As of the last week of April, new job postings had fallen 44% since January/February, based on the weekly average of new job postings. Compare April’s dismal numbers with those of March, when new job postings declined 32%. Will May see further decline, or an uptick? Whatever happens, we’ll cover it when it comes.
To be clear, we’re talking about increases or decreases in new job postings, not total active job postings. Many job postings are still live from pre-COVID months, but our goal in this report is to measure the behavior of businesses in terms of new postings—or the lack thereof—as businesses react to the crisis.
The following chart shows April’s job posting trends across US industries. All but two industries saw a decline in new job postings.
Online Shopping (19% growth) and General Merchandise Stores (16% growth) are the only industries who saw an overall increase of new postings in April, compared to Jan/Feb.* As we saw last month, Americans are increasingly shopping online while stores restrict headcount or close altogether for the time being.
*Note: Certain companies within other industries are publishing new postings, as we discuss further down, but at the 3-digit industry level, most industries had declined in new job postings.
Apparel Manufacturing saw an 81% decrease in new job postings in April, compared to the weekly average in Jan/Feb. The virus is taking a toll on the fashion industry—indeed, on the entire fashion supply chain worldwide.
The 76% decline in new job postings for Motor Vehicles & Parts Dealers reflects the beating the pandemic has given auto sales in general. Q1 sales plummeted for Infiniti (-25%), Acura (-22%), Honda (-19%), Subaru (-17%), BMW (-15%), Ford (-13%), and others. People under stay-at-home orders just aren’t motivated to invest in that new vehicle.
Accommodation includes hotels, resorts, and the like, so it makes sense to see a drastic 75% drop in new job postings. If people refrain from traveling even for just another month, the hotel industry is projected to lose $215.5 billion in sales from March to May. Guestless hotels don’t need staff.
Lawyers saw the greatest growth in new job postings in April (6%). In fact, lawyers have been in demand since the beginning of the pandemic. Even as countless court cases have been canceled or postponed and some courthouses have been shut down, there is one field where lawyers are working around the clock: the business field.
Lawyers are bracing for potential class actions brought over price gouging and antitrust violations, mislabeled health products, and other consumer claims. They’re also busy counseling employers and employees on how to grapple with the legion of unprecedented complications spawned by the pandemic. A burning question for many businesses has been, what should they do if an employee manifests symptoms or has been exposed to the virus? Lawyers help navigate these waters. Some law firms have even created multidisciplinary task forces to assist clients both domestic and international.
The demand for nursing and home health aides (4% increase in new job postings) hardly comes as a shock. If there’s any surprise here, it’s that new job postings aren’t through the roof. Perhaps there’s a reason for this. One brutally fascinating feature of the virus is its mercurial MO: ferociously hitting some cities (like NYC, LA, Detroit) and seemingly entirely skirting others (Corpus Christi, TX). It is flooding some hospitals and emptying others. Certain hospitals are understaffed while others, especially in rural areas, face imminent closure. The fairly modest uptick in demand for nursing and home health aides might reflect the fact that COVID-19 is leaving an inconsistent wake across the US.
Personal appearance workers saw the most dramatic nosedive in new job postings (-85%). This field includes workers like cosmetologists and barbers, many of whom were among the first to close in various states’ shutdown orders.
Tour and travel guides (-81%) were rendered virtually (temporarily) extinct almost overnight as the hospitality industry ground to a halt very early on. Same with Other Food Preparation & Serving-Related Workers (-70%). Overall, the hospitality industry is losing an average of 12,000 jobs a day, a calamity that is showing up in the job posting trends.
Hundreds of companies flatlined their job postings in April, including normally big-time posters like Oracle. Compared to Jan/Feb, new job postings for Oracle fell 63%. Other major companies with few to zero new job postings last month include:
However, dozens of companies are still posting like mad, including:
Amazon was already the world’s largest online retailer, in terms of both revenue and employees. Now it has hired 175,000 new people during the crisis. Amazon Fulfillment (the massive warehouses that prep and ship your stuff) catapulted from an average of 5 postings in Jan/Feb to an average of 806 in April (15,633% growth). In fact, Amazon currently lists 640 open positions within fulfillment center management. As Americans increasingly shop from quarantine couches, the need for more packaging workers is keen. Amazon.com proper is also posting: up by 48% from Jan/Feb.
Crowdstrike is hustling to track COVID-19-related malspam and keeping a vigilant eye on attacks on healthcare organizations in particular. From January to April, Crowdstrike’s job postings soared from 16 to 1,587 (10,057%).
With multiple states cautiously reopening, there will soon be unprecedented focus on how to right the economy, especially with 30 million Americans unemployed. 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.