Which Jobs Are Coming Back? And Which Ones Are We Losing?

How and where we work has changed considerably in the last six months. The shift has been sudden, and with signs of a virus recovery still up in the air, it makes sense to try and understand the future of work. The pandemic has hit certain industries harder than others. 

And according to a study from the University of Chicago, four in 10 jobs may never come back. Businesses that couldn’t go virtual or were hampered by lockdown policies were the most impacted. Although the economy has rebounded in recent months, many individuals and companies are still struggling to survive — while others are witnessing the rise of new job opportunities. 

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The impact of COVID-19 across industries and occupations

Each month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) surveys 145,000 businesses and government agencies to compile employment data. The BLS sends a similar survey each month to about 60,000 households. A new report from the Bureau examined this data from April to June, alongside COVID-19 infection rates in the United States during that same time. The paper’s author used this information to show “how the local incidence of the virus has affected employment across localities and industries.”

IndustryNumber of cases per 100,000 residents in JunePercent change in employment
Leisure and hospitality300 +-48.58
Retail trade (examples here)300 +-6.37
Construction300 +-0.95
Transportation and warehousing300 +-9.25
Manufacturing300 +-7.25
Health care300 +-8.15
Management services300 +-14.05
Real Estate300 +-8.65
Information300 +-16.75
Educational services300 +-16.97
Finance and insurance300 +0.08
Public administration300 +-2.40

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Geographic impact of COVID-19 in BLS surveys by industry

Looking closer at the wage gap felt by workers across industries, a recent Gallup report found that these five occupations were affected the most from April to June 2020.

1. Service workers

  • Percentage laid off: 34%
  • Percentage reduced pay: 43%

2. Entertainment and media workers

  • Percentage laid off: 25%
  • Percentage reduced pay: 48%

3. Small business owners

  • Percentage laid off: 18%
  • Percentage reduced pay: 64%

4. Construction workers

  • Percentage laid off: 18%
  • Percentage reduced pay: 38%

5. Sales workers

  • Percentage laid off: 18%
  • Percentage reduced pay: 46%

Sectors that will continue hiring during the economic crisis

Early on in the pandemic, it felt like the economy had no bottom. Week after week, the number of unemployment claims continued to rise as states and municipalities shut down everyday life in an attempt to contain the virus. Those lockdown orders have largely been lifted, and employment numbers have improved steadily ever since.

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Data from August shows a turnaround in the government, retail and leisure sectors of the economy. LinkedIn data from the same month shows the most in-demand jobs, including salesperson, food delivery driver, registered nurse, software engineer, software architect and account manager.

long-term forecast created by the BLS shows which way the economy is headed. Overall, the BLS anticipates 7.9 million new jobs will be added from 2018 to 2028. The service sector is expected to account for 91% of those new jobs. Within this sector, health care is forecasted to see the biggest increase in growth while retail, specifically jobs like cashiers, is anticipated to take a hit. Agriculture and construction are also expected to grow, which could offset predicted losses in manufacturing. Growth in the information sector is mixed. The creation of new technologies will spur growth in some areas while hitting others hard — publishing in particular.

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For the two sectors expected to see the most growth — health care occupations and computer and mathematical occupations — here’s a breakdown of some specific jobs that are expected to see the most growth:

Health care occupations

  • Home health aides
  • Personal care aides
  • Occupational therapy assistants
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Physical therapist assistants
  • Genetic counselors
  • Health specialties teachers, postsecondary
  • Phlebotomists

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Computer and mathematical occupations

  • Information security analysts
  • Statisticians
  • Mathematicians
  • Operations research analysts
  • Software developers, applications

What new jobs have emerged?

We’ve taken steps to slow the spread of the virus. This effort hasn’t been easy, but the attempt has led to the creation of jobs that either didn’t exist pre-pandemic or weren’t in-demand. Contract tracing is a good example. A tracer identifies people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and provides information about resources, including where they can get tested. Similarly, there has been a dramatic increase in demand for temperature screeners. People with design expertise, especially when it comes to offices, are also more sought after, as are installers and mask makers.

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With so many people working remotely, it’s not surprising to discover that now is a good time to be a support specialist at companies like Zoom. This push to a digital reality presents new opportunities in the world of technology. For example, Microsoft has launched an initiative to help 25 million people adapt to a rapidly changing world. The company has a mission statement that focuses on three key ideas. The first includes using data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to do the work. The second focuses on free access to content to help people develop the necessary skills. The third is an emphasis on low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Image credit: Feodora Chiosea/Getty Images

Eric Wilson Edge

Contributing Writer

Eric Wilson-Edge is a freelance journalist who has covered personal finance, banking, the economy and other topics for The Simple Dollar, The Seattle Times, Narratively and elsewhere.

Reviewed by

  • 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.