U.S. Job Openings Have Fallen 47% Since the COVID-19 Crisis Struck

U.S. job openings have fallen for 10 straight weeks, as measured by the daily count of active jobs on ZipRecruiter. They have now tumbled 47% from their mid-February peak.

Trends in Job Postings by Industry

No major industry has been unscathed. Travel and tourism led the way with early losses. But even the relatively stable and recession-proof parts of the economy, like schools and hospitals, have now suffered major disruption. 

Even so, there are companies that are continuing to hire despite the crisis. And there are others that have been urgently expanding hiring because of the crisis. 

For example, while the COVID-19 outbreak may have temporarily canceled restaurant dining, gym classes, and live sporting events, it has led to a surge in demand for groceries and home cooking supplies, home exercise equipment, and video games. Where consumer tastes and needs have shifted, employment opportunities have followed. 

15 Occupations Where Job Postings Have Increased Since Mid-February

  1. Online merchant (+722%)
  2. Warehouse team member (+364%)
  3. Commercial truck driver (+339%) 
  4. Tailor (+324%) 
  5. Nursing aide (+308%) 
  6. E-commerce specialist (+266%) 
  7. Travel nurse (+245%) 
  8. Grocery shopper (+215%) 
  9. Senior care provider (+144%) 
  10. Postal window clerk (+132%) 
  11. Au pair (+102%) 
  12. Local delivery driver (+65%) 
  13. Tanker driver (+54%)
  14. Financial consultant (+52%)
  15. Appliance repair technician (+43%) 

The Changing Nature of Work

Employers are increasingly looking for remote workers and those in temporary roles. 

6% of all jobs posted in April were work-from-home/remote jobs. That is the highest share on record. The typical share is usually around 2%. In some occupations, the shift has been especially dramatic. For example, 26% of all call center jobs posted in April explicitly offer work-from-home arrangements, up from 1% prior to the coronavirus crisis.

34% of all jobs posted in April were temporary. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, they made up a much smaller share—between 20% and 25%, depending on the season. The high share of temporary jobs available right now reflects the temporary nature of many economic trends and also profound uncertainty regarding the economic outlook. 

Reason for Optimism

After nine weeks of mostly negative trends, the week ending May 2 offered a glimmer of hope. For the first time, the decline in nationwide job postings moderated and 11 states actually saw job postings rebound slightly. Whether to prepare for the reopening of the economy or to qualify for Paycheck Protection Plan loan forgiveness, many employers who put hiring on hold when the crisis first struck are now returning to the labor market. Let’s hope that proves to be a longer-term trend and a durable one. 

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Julia Pollak

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Julia Pollak is a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. She provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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