August 10, 2020 by Luke Mason
The labor market is making a cautious comeback. In June, Americans started going back to work, the nation’s unemployment rate fell from 13.3% to 11.1%, and 4.8 million jobs were added to an economy which, after a while on the ropes, looks to be finding its feet again.
This encouraging growth is reflected in job posting trends. In June, new job postings continued a somewhat jerky recovery back up towards pre-COVID numbers. By the fourth week of June, they were just 3% percent below that of the weekly average of January/February 2020. This put new job postings a full 33% above the bleak Mariana Trench that was April 13, when new job postings hit rock bottom. They’re also a full 15% above the fourth week in May.
Below, we discuss the top 10 industries and occupations with either growing or declining new job postings, compared to the weekly pre-COVID average of new job postings in January/February.
Among US industries, Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities saw the greatest increase in new job postings in June: up 145% compared to the Jan/Feb average. Most of the new job postings from this industry—which includes courts, police, legal counsel, fire protection, and the like—came from the FBI.
The Couriers & Messengers industry (including FedEx and UPS) has boomed as it tries to keep up with package-delivery to housebound Americans. June job postings were up 136% over the Jan/Feb weekly average. Speaking of which, job postings for Nonstore Retailers (online shopping) were up 86% over Jan/Feb. Most if not all state-wide stay-at-home orders may have been lifted now for several weeks or more, but the shop-from-home spike continues.
Another notable industry in terms of new job posting activity is Food & Beverage Stores, which saw a 16% increase over Jan/Feb. Sample companies posting include Kroger Co., Giant Eagle, and Circle K. With many restaurants still closed to in-person dining or limited to 50% seating capacity, Americans are flocking to grocery stores instead.
New job postings tanked the worst for Air Transportation, falling -73% compared to Jan/Feb—not surprising, given that the industry lost 65% of its flights (worldwide) during the first week of June 2020 compared to the corresponding week in 2019.
With some states warily reopening and others tightening back up, Accommodation is still taking a hit. New job postings were down -51% compared to Jan/Feb. These numbers, however, are better than they were in April or May. In fact, as of June 29, average occupancy levels for US hotels had risen for the tenth consecutive week, up to nearly 44%, though hotel demand is not expected to fully recover until 2023.
Other industries with lower numbers for new job postings include Truck Transportation (-46%), Motion Picture & Sound Recording Industries (-45%), Petroleum & Coal Products Manufacturing (-43%), and Performing Arts, Spectator Sports, and Related Industries (-42%).
Though the world is far from normal, businesses are starting to hire again. Several business occupations had greater numbers of new job postings in June than they did in Jan/Feb:
New job postings for Supervisors of Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Workers (up 79%) and Forest, Conservation, and Logging Workers (up 43%) appear to be on the rebound. This is good news for forest and conservation, 90% of whose employers reported difficulty with recruitment or staffing as a result of COVID-19 back in April.
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers (up 26%) and Construction Trades Workers (up 25%) are among the hands-on occupations with growing numbers of new job postings. Construction in general seems poised for recovery after the shutdown.
Sales, military, and healthcare roles are among the miscellany of occupations whose new job postings are still far below their pre-COVID numbers. Animal Care & Service Workers has declined the most (-79%), followed by Material Recording, Scheduling, Dispatching, and Distributing Workers (-37%).
In the previous section, we saw that some sales occupations are publishing new postings. But that is not the case for all sales roles. Sales Reps, Wholesale & Manufacturing (-31%) are still below their Jan/Feb average. Sales, especially retail sales, got sucker-punched by the virus. According to Peak Sales Recruiting’s COVID-19 Sales Force Impact study, sales for North American companies decreased by an average of -39%. Front-line sales managers and quota-carrying reps from small companies were hit the hardest.
The decline in new job postings for Military Occupations (-31%) could reflect a number of factors, including the difficulty in recruiting new soldiers during the pandemic, not to mention training them once they arrive. In late March, the Marine Corps stopped accepting new recruits at its Parris Island boot camp, due to an outbreak of the virus on site. The US military could also face budget cuts as a result of the economic meltdown.
But why the decline in new job postings for healthcare occupations like Health Technologists & Technicians (-27%) and Other Healthcare Practitioners & Technical Occupations (-23%)? Because COVID-19 doesn’t play fair. The virus wallops some cities and seemingly skirts others, and it does the same to various jobs within healthcare. Not all healthcare jobs are in demand even during a pandemic. In May, even Hospitals published 40% fewer job postings than in Jan/Feb. So it’s not surprising to see a few healthcare jobs in the top 10 occupations posting less in June.
Most states are still in the swamps in terms of new job postings, but a few have inched above their Jan/Feb average for weekly job postings. Those states are headed up by Washington, with a huge 33% increase in new job postings. Most of the others cluster in the northeast: New Hampshire (9%), Vermont (15%), Maryland (6%), Mississippi (5%), New York (3%), and West Virginia (3%).
The states with plummeting new job postings in June are led by Hawaii (-33%), which is ironic because in May the Aloha State was actually 5% above its pre COVID numbers. Other states that have yet to rebound include Alaska (-30%), Nevada (-29%), Idaho (-27%), and Nebraska (-19%).