November Numbers Show Sharp Decline in Job Opportunities

A recent BLS job report revealed that only 245,000 jobs were gained in November — 200,000 under what economists expected. That’s the lowest number since April and the fifth consecutive month down since recovery began. Despite these numbers, the unemployment rate fell from 6.8% in October to 6.7%. Though not for the right reasons. As the economy continues to grapple with the coronavirus, there is long-term damage for millions of workers. 

Those who have been unemployed for six months or more make up 40% of the jobless — they typically struggle to find employment. The Department of Labor notes that people who have stopped actively looking for jobs are no longer counted as unemployed, which artificially decreases the unemployment rate. In the face of new surges in coronavirus cases, the economy is stumbling — painting a dire picture for December and the upcoming months. The question remains: when will people get their jobs back?

Job growth during the pandemic

Twenty-two million people lost their jobs at the onset of the pandemic as shutdowns were enforced and businesses closed. Job growth has not kept pace with the needs of Americans, despite some months showing signs of recovery. We’re still nearly 10 million jobs under pre-Covid levels, as we’ve only been able to bring back 12.3 million of the jobs lost

[ Read: A Look At How the U.S. Spent Covid Relief in 2020 ]

November was the first month that was drastically down since recovery began — a sharp drop from the 610,000 jobs created in October. For reference, November rates for job creation would be considered healthy if it was a regular year. But momentum started to dip by September. From May to August, the economy was able to add at least one million jobs each month. June was the star month with a 4.8 million job level.

Growth by industry

Some industries have been able to recover quicker than others. Thanks to online shopping and the holidays, the transportation and warehouse industries have gained 145,000 jobs — accounting for over half of the jobs in November. However, retailers shed 35,000 jobs, no doubt attributed to in-person limitations and shift to online shopping. Spikes in seasonal retail jobs throughout the holiday season won’t inflate the job growth rate this year. 

  • General merchandise stores — lost 21,000 jobs.
  • Hobby stores (sporting goods, books and music) — lost 12,000 jobs.
  • Electronic and appliance stores – lost 11,000 jobs.

[ Read: Which Jobs Are Coming Back? And Which Ones Are We Losing? ]

Which jobs won’t come back?

The government sector shed nearly 100,000 jobs as temporary census workers completed the reporting for the census, though this is an expected trend. Some jobs may have a more challenging time bouncing back when the pandemic is over. According to the Glassdoor Workplace Trends 2021 report, nearly every industry has a job that is at risk of not returning. Beauty consultants, valets, product demonstrators and executive assistance area all down by over 50%.

JobIndustry % Decline 
Audiologist Healthcare-70%
Event CoordinatorAdmin-69%
Chef Food services -56%
Beauty ConsultantPersonal services-53%
ProfessorEducation -39%

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Taylor Leamey

Personal Finance Reporter

Taylor Leamey is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, mortgages, renters, and financial policy. Her reporting has also been featured at CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Reviews.com, MyMove.com, and elsewhere.

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  • Andrea Perez
    Andrea Perez
    Personal Finance Editor

    Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.