“I never thought it would last,” said the 52-year old Bloomfield, NJ, resident. “I figured I’d weather it. But my clientele was an older clientele, and there were safety concerns. I couldn’t even meet with them away from the studio.”
By June he was shutting down the business for good and looking for a new job.
“When I got there in June, they said they were already doing their peak season numbers then. It never let up,” he said.
Pennise is an example of the shift, some of it permanent, that has taken place in the labor market in the year since the pandemic started. Some jobs that were lost are gone for good. Some new jobs are unlikely to go away, even when the pandemic ends.
Economists expect Friday’s labor report will show US employers added 647,000 jobs in March. Unemployment is forecast to fall to 6%, an improvement from the 6.2% rate reported for February. Even if job gains hit that estimate, it will leave the overall economy with about 8.8 million fewer jobs than in February 2020 when Covid-19 started reshaping the US economy.
But a number of sectors have already come back to their pre-pandemic employment levels. And many of those sectors will keep those gains even when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.
Here are some of the other sectors where jobs are already back to pre-pandemic levels:
The business of delivering goods to people — very often goods bought online — has boomed in the last year. What the Labor Department calls “couriers and messengers” also includes giant delivery companies such as UPS and FedEx.
Jobs in the sector grew 17% between February 2020 and February 2021 — a net gain of nearly 150,000 jobs, giving it the biggest percentage gain of any industry.
Big box retailers
No retail sector gained more jobs than general merchandise stores — a category that includes warehouse clubs and supercenters but excludes department stores. There there was a net gain of 145,000 jobs, or 7% in that sector.
Grocery and beverage stores overall also added 22,000 jobs, or 3% growth. Closed or limited-capacity restaurants meant people were eating at home more, buying food at either a traditional grocer or one of the supercenters.
Residential construction added 21,000, or 2% growth. And building materials and garden retailers, which helped feed that building was another rare bright spot in retailing, adding 132,000 jobs to grow 10%. Home Depot added 89,000 jobs worldwide, a 21% increase, while Lowe’s added another 20,000, to grow employment 6%.
What the Labor Department classifies as “nonstore retailers” added 15,000 jobs since February of 2020. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of growth in that sector. Many of the jobs at those companies fall into different categories, some in various technology classification. Distribution center employees count under the warehousing and storage category, which grew by 89,000 jobs, or 7%.
Record-low interest rates and strong housing market meant a busy year for mortgage brokers and lenders. That sector of finance grew by 21,000 jobs, or a 7% gain, during the 12 months ending in February.