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The Impact of Coronavirus on US Job Postings Through March 12: Data from Indeed.com

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US job postings on Indeed.com on March 12 were 8.6% above February 1, 2020, the pre-pandemic baseline. Gains accelerated in the past week.

We regularly update this report to track the pandemic’s effects on the labor market. Our methodology changed at the start of 2021, as explained in the methodology note at the end of the post.

Job postings on Indeed are a real-time measure of labor market activity. On March 12, 2021, they were 8.6% above February 1, 2020, the pre-pandemic baseline, after adjusting for seasonal variation. That’s a notable gain from a week earlier, when postings were 6.7% above the baseline. Postings improved over the past week at a faster rate than during the summer 2020 rebound, when postings rose by an average of 1.6 percentage points per week. 

Line chart titled “Job postings on Indeed, United States.” With a vertical axis ranging from -40% to 10%, Indeed tracked the percent change in job postings since February 1, 2020, along a horizontal axis ranging from February 1, 2020, to March 12, 2021. On March 12, 2021, job postings were 8.6% above February 1, 2020, the pre-pandemic baseline. Caption added post-publication.

Job postings plunged in March and April 2020 to a low of 39% below the February 1, 2020, baseline. Job postings returned to the baseline on January 20, 2021, but that does not mean the labor market has fully recovered. Other measures of labor market health, like payroll employment and the headline unemployment rate, remain substantially worse than pre-pandemic. For employment to recover completely, job postings will have to remain above the pre-pandemic baseline for an extended time. Finally, in some sectors and metros, job postings are far below the pre-pandemic baseline.

Big rebound in health-care jobs, but hospitality lags

Job postings have fallen most in occupations directly affected by the coronavirus. Hospitality & tourism postings are still down more than one-quarter below the February 1, 2020, baseline. Two sectors affected by virus surges and shutdowns — education and beauty & wellness  — also lag.

Pharmacy postings have increased substantially as vaccines roll out. Nursing and medical-technician jobs are also well above the pre-pandemic baseline. So are jobs in goods-related sectors like loading & stocking, construction, and manufacturing. 

Childcare job postings have recovered in recent weeks, and human resources job postings are also above the baseline — hinting at more hiring to come.

Bar chart titled “Some sectors have been hit harder than others.” Indeed compared the percent change in US job postings in various sectors, divided by “better than economy average,” “similar to economy average,” and “worse than economy average” from February 1, 2020, and February 12, 2021, to March 12, 2021. Pharmacy postings increased substantially as vaccines roll out. Caption added post-publication.

Metros where job postings have declined most

Within the US, job postings are down most in metro Honolulu, San Jose, and San Francisco. But job postings have improved in nearly all regions of the country. Only 11 of the 110 metros with at least half a million people remain below the pre-pandemic baseline. 

Bar chart titled “Metros with largest declines in job postings.” Indeed compared the percent change in US job postings in various US metros from February 1, 2020, and February 12, 2021, to March 12, 2021. Job postings were down most in metro Honolulu, San Jose, and San Francisco. Caption added post-publication.

Job postings fell more initially in travel and tourism destinations. Job postings have rebounded more slowly in metros where a higher share of jobs can be done from home. In high work-from-home metros, postings in retail, restaurant, and personal-services jobs suffered. Postings in these metros are still 5% below the pre-pandemic baseline.

Line graph titled “Job postings in hospitality vs work-from-home metros.” With a vertical axis ranging from -50% to 20%, Indeed tracked the percent change in job postings along a horizontal axis ranging from February 1, 2020 to March 12, 2021 with lines representing “all metros,” “high WFH metros,” and “high hospitality metros.” In high work-from-home metros, hospitality job postings were 5% below the pre-pandemic baseline. Caption added post-publication.

The pandemic has been especially severe in bigger cities. But — finally! — job postings in the largest metros are slightly above the pre-pandemic baseline.

Line graph titled “Job postings lag in largest metros.” With a vertical axis ranging from -50% to 20%, Indeed tracked the percent change in job postings along a horizontal axis ranging from February 1, 2020 to March 12, 2021 with lines representing “small,” “medium,” “larger,” and “largest” metros. Job postings in the largest metros are slightly above the pre-pandemic baseline. Caption added post-publication.

We host the underlying chart data on Github as downloadable CSV files. Typically, it will be updated with the latest data one day after this blog post was published.

Methodology

All figures in this blogpost are the percentage change in seasonally-adjusted job postings since February 1, 2020, using a seven-day trailing average. February 1, 2020, is our pre-pandemic baseline. We seasonally adjust each series based on historical patterns in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Each series, including the national trend, occupational sectors, and sub-national geographies, is seasonally adjusted separately. We adopted this new methodology in January 2021 and now use it to report all historical data. Historical numbers have been revised and may differ significantly from originally reported values. 

This blogpost is based on publicly available information on the Indeed US website and any other countries if named in the post. Unless specified otherwise, it is limited to the United States, is not a projection of future events, and includes both paid and unpaid job solicitations. US Armed Forces job postings are excluded.