Coronavirus, State of the Labor Market

Coronavirus and US Job Postings Through August 28: Data from Indeed.com

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The trend in job postings was 20.2% lower than in 2019 as of August 28 — a slight increase after two weeks of backsliding.

We will be regularly updating this data as we track how coronavirus impacts the global labor market. 

The trend in job postings — a real-time measure of labor market activity — is 20.2% lower than in 2019, as of August 28. This is a slight improvement after two consecutive weeks of decline in the postings index, which followed three months of gradual improvement. Three weeks ago, the trend was 18.1% below last year.

The trend in job postings was roughly in line with last year’s trend until the second week of March. Postings were 2.9% below the 2019 trend on March 15 then plunged over the next six weeks to a low point of 39.3% on May 1. There was gradual improvement in May, June, and July before a flattening in August.

Hospitality and tourism jobs have seen the biggest decline

Job postings have fallen most in occupations directly affected by the coronavirus such as hospitality & tourism and sports, where postings are still more than 40% below last year’s trend. Postings are far below last year’s trend in many higher-wage office sectors, too, like software development and banking & finance. 

In several goods-related sectors, job postings are back to near last year’s levels. Construction, loading & stocking, retail, and driving job postings are within a few percent of last year’s trend, but retail and driving have slowed in the past two weeks. 

In-person services like food prep and childcare haven’t recovered as much as driving and retail jobs. 

Job postings for higher-wage occupations have fallen the most. Initially, postings in higher-wage occupations fell less than those in middle- and lower-wage occupations, but have subsequently lagged. Postings in higher-wage occupations are now 27% below trend, versus 13% below trend for lower-wage occupations.

This pattern in job postings is different from the trend in employment. Bureau of Labor Statistics data through mid-July show that lower-wage industries have lost the most jobs in the pandemic, by a wide margin. Lower-wage industries like retail and food service adjust their workforces in response to month-to-month or even week-to-week changes in demand. But it is more expensive and often takes longer to fire and hire higher-wage workers. Higher-wage industries like tech and finance might plan their headcounts based on what they expect demand to look like longer-term, in future quarters or years. 

Where job postings have declined most

Within the US, the trend in job postings is down most in metro Honolulu, San Jose, and San Francisco. In these metros, job postings are down almost twice as much as the national average.

Job postings fell more initially in travel and tourism destinations, large and small, but postings have picked up since May in hospitality metros like Las Vegas, Miami, and Orlando. Job postings have rebounded much more slowly in metros where more of the jobs can be done from home. In work-from-home metros, postings in retail, restaurant, and personal-services jobs have suffered.

Job postings have recovered more in smaller metros than in larger ones, even though smaller metros backslid more in August. Postings are down 11% in the smallest metros, versus 29% in the largest metros. New COVID19 cases and deaths, however, are now higher in smaller metros and rural areas than in larger metros — a reversal of the pattern at the start of the pandemic.

We’ll be regularly updating this data. We also host the data behind the postings trends plots on Github as downloadable CSV files. Typically, it will be updated with the latest data one day after the respective Hiring Lab tracker is published.

Methodology

To measure the trends in job postings, we calculated the 7-day moving average of the number of US job postings on Indeed. We index each day’s 7-day moving average to the start of that year (Feb 1, 2020 = 100 for 2020 data, and so on), or another date if specified on the chart.

We report how the trend in job postings this year differs from last year, in order to focus on the recent changes in labor market conditions due to COVID-19. For example: if job postings for a country increased 30% from February 1, 2019, to May 22, 2019, but only 20% from February 1, 2020, to May 22, 2020, then the index would have risen from 100 to 130 in 2019 and 100 to 120 in 2020. The year-to-date trend in job postings would therefore be down 7.7% on May 22 (120 is 7.7% below 130) in 2020 relative to 2019. 

In the tables for this post, the caption “change in trend in postings” represents the percent change in job growth rate from February 1 compared to the same date the year prior. 

Information based on publicly available information on the Indeed US website (and any other countries named in the post), limited to the United States, is not a projection of future events, and includes both paid and unpaid job solicitations.

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