Coronavirus and US Job Postings Through December 31: Data from Indeed.com
The trend in job postings was 10.6% lower than in 2019 as of December 31, as slow improvement continued.
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 10.6% lower than in 2019, as of December 31. That’s a modest gain from the end of November, when postings were 11.8% below last year’s trend.
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 0.4 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 47%. Postings are below last year’s trend in many higher-wage office sectors, too, like software development and banking & finance.
In several goods-related sectors like driving, loading & stocking, construction, and manufacturing, job postings are ahead of last year’s levels. Pharmacy postings picked up at the end of the year, likely on upbeat vaccine news. But postings for in-person services like food prep and childcare jobs are down more than most other sectors.
Job postings for lower-wage occupations have recovered most, at 7% below trend vs. 11% for higher-wage occupations.This pattern in job postings is different from the trend in employment. Bureau of Labor Statistics data through mid-November 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, Seattle, and San Francisco. In these metros, job postings are down more than 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. Postings in high work-from-home metros remain 21% below last year’s trend, with slow recovery.
Job postings have held up even in markets where the virus is surging. In metros with the highest rate of new infections since October, job postings are 4% above last year’s trend.
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.
We will be changing our methodology later this month so we can continue publishing a consistent series that starts on February 1, 2020.
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.
Jed Kolko is Chief Economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. Previously he was Chief Economist and VP of Analytics at Trulia, the online real estate marketplace. He has also led research teams at the Public Policy Institute of California and at Forrester Research. Jed specializes in using large-scale proprietary and publicly available datasets to uncover insights about labor markets, the future of work, demographics, housing markets, and urban trends. He earned his B.A. in social studies and his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University.