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Coronavirus and US Job Postings Through October 16: Data from Indeed.com

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The trend in job postings was 15.3% lower than in 2019 as of October 16, an uptick from last week’s trend.

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 15.3% lower than in 2019, as of October 16. The trend picked up last week after pausing the week before.

A line graph titled “Job postings on Indeed, United States.” With a vertical axis ranging from 60% to 120%, Indeed tracked the percentage gap in job postings along a horizontal axis from February 1 to October 16 with lines representing 2018, 2019, and 2020. Job postings trend on March 15, 2020 was 2.9% below the 2019 trend. Job postings trend on May 1, 2020 was 39.3% below the 2019 trend. Job postings trend on October 16, 2020 was 15.3% below the 2019 trend. Captions added post-publication.

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 improvement in May, June, and July, when our postings tracker improved by an average of 1.6 percentage points per week. Starting in August, improvement slowed to an average of just 0.3 percentage points per week.

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, sports, and arts & entertainment. Hospitality & tourism postings are down by almost half. 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 near or ahead of last year’s levels. Driving, loading & stocking, construction, manufacturing, beauty & wellness, and dental postings are above last year’s trend, with retail just a few points away. Some of these sectors, like dental and beauty & wellness, are rebounding as people get services they postponed earlier in the pandemic. But other in-person services like food prep and childcare haven’t recovered as much. 

A table titled “Some sectors have been hit harder than others.” Indeed compared the sector-specific percentage gap in the 2020 job postings trend up to October 16, with the 2019 trend using a seven day average. Results varied widely. Caption added post-publication.

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 20% below trend, versus 10% below trend for lower-wage occupations.

A line graph titled “Higher-wage job postings lag.” With a vertical axis ranging from -45% to 5%, Indeed tracked the percentage gap in the 2020 job postings trend compared with the 2019 trend along a horizontal axis of February to October. Three lines represent top-third, middle-third and bottom-third job occupation wage tiers. Job postings trend in higher-wage occupations are 20% below the 2019 trend. Job postings trend in lower-wage occupations are 10% below the 2019 trend. Caption added post-publication.

This pattern in job postings is different from the trend in employment. Bureau of Labor Statistics data through mid-September 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 Francisco, and San Jose. In these metros, job postings are down twice as much as the national average.

A table titled “Metros with largest declines in job postings.” Indeed compared the percentage gap in the 2020 job postings trend as of October 23 with the 2019 trend in metros with populations of 500,000 or more. Results range from -24.2% to -38.5%. Caption added post-publication.

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. Postings in high work-from-home metros remain 26% below last year’s trend, with slow recovery.

A line graph titled, “Job postings in hospitality vs work-from-home metros.” With a vertical axis ranging from -50% to +5%, Indeed tracked the percentage gap in the 2020 job postings trend compared with the 2019 trend along a horizontal axis running from February 1 to October 16. Three lines represent all metros, high work-from-home metros, and high hospitality metros. Job postings trend in high work-from-home metros on October 16, 2020 was 26% below the 2019 trend. Caption added post-publication.

Metros where more people can work from home tend to be larger and richer — and bluer. Job postings are down just 7% in Republican-leaning metros, versus down 19% in Democratic-leaning metros. 

A line graph titled, “Job postings in red & blue metros.” With a vertical axis ranging from -45% to +5%, Indeed tracked the percentage gap in the 2020 job postings trend compared with the 2019 trend along a horizontal axis running from February 1 to October 16. Two lines represent Democratic-leaning metros and Republican-leaning metros. Job postings trend in Democratic-leaning metros on October 16, 2020 was 19% below the 2019 trend. Job postings trend in Republican-leaning metros on October 16, 2020 was 7% below the 2019 trend. Caption added post-publication.

We’ll be regularly updating this data. We also host the underlying chart data 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. 

We occasionally update the full series of job-postings numbers for metros and states. We exclude U.S. Armed Forces job postings, which tend to be clustered in specific locations at specific times. The trend numbers for individual metros and states might change as we identify and exclude likely Armed Forces jobs.  

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.