truckers, managers and doctors
What the new data shows about the US labor market emerging from the coronavirus
By Howard Schneider And sarah slobin
The pandemic caused a massive reshuffle of who does what in the American workforce. Keeping track of that changing landscape falls to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which each year publishes details on how many people work in different types of jobs.
The latest data from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Program was released in April, using surveys of 671,552 occupations to estimate how many people were employed in more than 800 broad occupations and the wages they earned. The answers reflect an economy adapting to life after a global health crisis.
More Movers and Security
The BLS survey breaks down the workforce into 22 major occupational categories and the job count shows that some of the pandemic-related trends were underway before COVID-19 hit US shores.
The graphic shows the number of jobs in 22 occupational categories in 2016, 2019 and 2022.
With many in-person services limited before vaccines arrive in 2021, more groceries, food and goods were delivered by cars and trucks. Transportation jobs boomed.
Work from home, an expanding logistics industry, and changes in technology have meant an increase in managerial jobs and a decline in office and administrative support. Jobs in personal care and some other services decreased, possibly reflecting the higher risk and stress associated with that type of work during the pandemic.
The number of jobs in each occupation is one way of thinking about what has changed. The composition of the workforce — the percentage share of each occupation among all jobs — is another.
cum secretaries, sales people and servers
The share of jobs in some of the largest components of the workforce — office workers, sales and food preparation — was down from 2016 to 2022.
The graphic shows how the percentage share in the total workforce changed from 2019 to 2022 for each of the 22 occupational categories.
In many cases — the shift toward transportation and health jobs and away from office workers, for example — the biggest changes occurred from 2016 to 2019 and may have helped the US cope with the pandemic.
Overall, America became an economy where a large proportion of people began managing their lives, organizing and moving things around, rather than making things or providing services.
The impact of the pandemic on education, health care and food services has been well documented. Staff shortages continue in nursing, and food preparation and service-related businesses are one place where employment has not reached its pre-pandemic levels. The US logistics boom was well underway when the pandemic struck.
raise higher on the bottom
Pandemic years have typically seen people in jobs at the bottom of the income distribution receive larger salaries than those at the top, narrowing the pay gap in many occupations.
The graphic shows the percentage change in annual salary received by the top 25% and bottom 25% of people in various occupations.:end
great resignation. leaving cool. The pandemic introduced a new language around work, especially in the service industry, as people re-examined priorities and salary demands in light of the health and safety risks involved in interacting with the sometimes unruly public . The benefits of the pandemic helped people manage through layoffs and a brief recession. As they re-employed, higher wages were often required to get their help.
At a very basic level, the distribution of jobs represents what individuals, businesses, institutions and governments want, need and are willing to spend money on.
Mental Health, Green Roofers and General Manager
Some jobs increased due to the pandemic, others continued up or down with pre-existing trends.
The graphic shows the change in the number of people employed in a wide range of occupations, in terms of percentage and amount, from 2019 to 2022.
Some jobs are few in number but growing rapidly, such as solar panel installers and, especially in the wake of the pandemic, counselors and therapists. In a chaotic and unpredictable work environment with ever-changing rules of engagement, the ranks of HR specialists swelled as well. Some shifts, such as the decline of retail workers, may involve a long-term reallocation of labor. Others, such as the decline in flight attendants until May 2022, could be more short-term pandemic disruptions.
Which of these trends last, which fade, and which new ones emerge will be important to US policymakers at the Federal Reserve, federal, state and local governments, and educational institutions as they seek to create a labor force that match the economy. Demand.
With natural population growth slowing, immigration can play an important role in meeting labor demands. The impact of technology on the US economy, now including the increasing use of artificial intelligence, may also affect how many workers will be needed in the future.
The BLS data is based on a survey of 671,552 American businesses, which covers the bulk of the American workforce. The sample rotates every six months over a period of 3 years.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
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