Confirming fears that a massive amount of people would lose their jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus, it has been reported that a record-setting 3,283,000 people have filed for unemployment benefits the week ending March 21. There are reports that the job losses will continue, especially in hard-hit sectors, such as hotels, airlines, restaurants, malls and department stores.
In an effort to forecast what will happen next in the job market, Karin Kimbrough, the chief economist at LinkedIn, conducted a study of both China and Italy. These two countries bore the initial brunt of the coronavirus. By researching the trajectory of their job markets, Kimbrough maintained it would offer insights into where the United States is heading.
According to Kimbrough, her analyses concluded that the U.S. will mirror the hiring trends in China and Italy. This would be exemplified by dramatic declines in U.S. hiring, as it occurred in both China and Italy. Then, once the virus has been contained, U.S. employment will rise, as it did in the two hardest hit countries.
LinkedIn also took a deep dive into determining which sectors are aggressively hiring. Its data shows a strong and fast-growing demand for healthcare workers. A large number of the jobs are for the brave professionals on the frontlines helping treat patients during this pandemic.
Healthcare-related workers are in the most demand with the highest level of job openings on the professional networking platform. According to LinkedIn, the increase in job listings for healthcare professionals tracks the rate of patients with coronavirus-related issues.
A search for “healthcare” jobs on Indeed.com, the large job aggregation site, shows 96,366 jobs available. These positions are posted by companies such as UnitedHealth Group, DaVita, Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health & Services.
The growth of job openings in healthcare is due, in large part, to the coronavirus. There’s an insatiable need ranging from doctors to medical assistants. The lack of skilled experienced personnel is so great that Andrew Coumo, the governor of New York, called for retired physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to help out due to the overwhelming need of their services.
There are other winners as well when it comes to jobs. Online companies have a big advantage over their brick-and-mortar competitors. Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers, mostly for fulfillment and delivery to keep up with the massive demand as people are stuck at home and not shopping at physical stores.
As adults and children are housebound, video game makers and tech companies that enable making work from home easier are doing well. Zoom, a startup teleconferencing company that recently went public, became the go-to video app for both the corporate types, as well as teachers conducting online classes now that the schools are physically closed. The company’s job section reflects about 200 open jobs. Slack, a messaging platform used by corporate workers, has multiple pages of job openings.
Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and other giant tech companies continue hiring. Their prominent online presence and non-reliance on physical locations (although Apple does have a large chain of boutiques) enable them to stay open for business while their competitors are essentially closed. They also have sizable war chests to get through tough times.
The other winners are far from the Silicon Valley crowd. Hiring in these areas is spiking in response to the needs created by the coronavirus. While many retail-oriented jobs were lost due to the pandemic, it looks like other jobs are being created.
Grocery and pharmacy chains, pizza deliveries and in-store shoppers, such as Instacart, are hiring. Instacart, the on-demand supermarket delivery startup, plans to hire 300,000 full-time shoppers. Grocery chains Walmart and Kroger have been aggressively hiring as people raid the stores to stock up on supplies, panicking that there may be future shortages.
Walmart announced its plan to hire about 150,000 new workers for its warehouses and stores to manage increased demands. CVS plans to immediately hire 50,000 full and part-time workers around the country. Convenience store 7-Eleven is said to hire 20,000 people to address growing demand due to the coronavirus. Dollar Tree will hire 25,000 workers and Dominos and Kroger plan on increasing their staff by 10,000 people.
The news of hiring is encouraging. As Amazon, Walmart and Instacart enthusiastically hire, it may soak up the large number of people who have lost their jobs at shopping malls, airlines, hotels and restaurants.
Nevertheless, there are some concerns. Outside of the tech sector, there hasn’t been a number of corporations saying that they are hiring white-collar, college-educated professionals with 10 to 20-plus years of experience.
There are also antitrust matters to consider. The dominant players, such as Amazon, are swiftly crushing its smaller rivals—specifically those who depend on physical shopping locations.
We also have to worry about the wealth gap growing even wider. The hiring looks like a barbell. On one side, you have all of the warehouse, shelf-stocker, forklift operator type of workers. On the other side, are the highly compensated tech engineers, coders and executives. Healthcare falls into this camp too. You have the higher-end physicians and surgeons and the lower-paid medical assistants. Before this gap widens any further, attention should be paid to how the new post-coronavirus economy and job market will take shape.
It’s good news that Walmart, Kroger and CVS are planning to hire, but we need to think about the future. A lot of the purchasing at the grocery stores and pharmacies is panic induced. Worries about disruption of the supply chain—causing empty shelves—has motivated people to stock up on food and toilet paper. Once we return to a semblance of normality, this initial rush may die down. The armies of workers won’t be needed any longer. We may then end up with a good portion of the people who were hired in March and April being laid off in the summertime.