New Online Job Ads Down 45 Percent

Coronavirus pandemic making it harder to find new jobs

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer May 6, 2020
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nurse on laptop

​New online job postings—ones that are a week old or less—on global job site Indeed were down 45 percent for the week ending May 1 compared with the same period last year.

"The trend in job postings was roughly in line with last year's trend until the second week of March," said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed. "The slowdown accelerated in the second half of March and through April."

Martha Gimbel, manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures in New York City, said one of the tragic outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic "is not just the massive job loss, it's also that the path out of that job loss is closing. When workers lose their jobs now, it will be very difficult for them to find something new."

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Some Sectors Hit Harder Than Others

No job sector has been immune from the havoc COVID-19 is waging on the U.S. economy, but the severity of the impact differs by industry, said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab.

New job postings for nurses and software developers, for example, have fallen by about one-third, compared to the overall average decline of 45 percent, she said.

Nursing made up 6.6 percent of all the new jobs on Indeed in April 2019 and 11 percent of the total mix as of April 24 of this year. "This is a year-over-year increase of 70 percent, the highest increase seen in any job sector," Konkel said.

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Coronavirus and COVID-19

"Telehealth" and "telehealth nurse" have been among the top 10 fastest growing search terms on Indeed, along with "WFH" (work from home) and "grocery store." Grocery retailers have initiated hiring surges to staff up for the public onslaught that followed lockdown orders. "Employer demand for grocery store workers has skyrocketed since mid-March," Konkel said. "As of May 4, the share of grocery store job postings per million postings on Indeed grew 252 percent year-over-year." 

On the other hand, industries such as hospitality, tourism and child care have taken some of the biggest hits since the coronavirus outbreak.

New job ads in hospitality and tourism are down 77 percent from this time last year, and new listings for opportunities in child care have fallen even lower, down 81 percent from May 2019.

"The child care findings are the most worrying, because it's unclear what will happen to that industry long term," Gimbel said. "It already runs on very thin margins. If we come out of this crisis and we don't have child care workers ready to go back to work, there are huge implications for working parents trying to go back to work in other sectors."

The beauty and wellness category also experienced a sharp year-over-year decline in new job postings—a 79 percent drop—according to Indeed.

"As hair salons and spas remain closed across the country, it's unsurprising that their share of new job postings has fallen," Konkel said. "New postings in highly exposed job sectors like child care and beauty and wellness have seen the steepest drop in new postings growth, which makes sense since these industries have a near-constant level of face-to-face interaction."

Kolko said that within the U.S., job postings have fallen most in travel and tourism destinations and in larger metropolitan areas with colder weather and older populations at greater risk from the virus.

"The metros with the biggest declines are those where hospitality and tourism drive the local economy," he said. "Among large metros, Las Vegas, Orlando and Honolulu have the highest share of employment in accommodation, food service, air travel and related hospitality and tourism industries—and these places have had among the biggest job posting drops."

Job-Seeker Interest

Competition for newly posted jobs has escalated. "It's highly unlikely we'll get back to the tight labor market of 2019 any time soon," Kolko said. "Rather, there will be more unemployed workers competing for fewer job openings."

Hiring might rebound in sectors that have largely shut down once the acute phase of the pandemic is over, though probably not back to pre-COVID-19 levels, he said. "Some companies whose businesses support the stay-at-home economy—like grocery stores, online retail and delivery, and pharmacies—are hiring rapidly. But these jobs that support the stay-at-home economy aren't the work-from-home jobs that many people are seeking."

There's no sugar-coating it; it's a hard time to be looking for a job. "Some people will be less inclined to search—if you've got a good, secure job you'll probably stay put if you can," Kolko said. "Few people want to switch jobs and be the last one hired at a new company when uncertainty is high. But many who have lost jobs will be searching. Job seekers are looking for remote work and for jobs at companies that have announced big hiring pushes."

Gimbel said that it will take a long time for an economy to recover from a crisis like COVID-19. "When we look at the losses from this crisis, it's not just the jobs lost and raises people didn't get, it's all those people who were thinking about coming back into the labor force and now will not be able to. Those people won't show up in the economic statistics, but that loss is real too."


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