(12 November 2021) The U.S. labor market has made significant progress since the removal of pandemic-related restrictions. According to the latest labor market report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in October 2021 unemployment decreased to 4.6% and the number of people employed was only 3% below the pre-pandemic figure. However, not all jobs have been bouncing back equally.

BLS employment data shows uneven recovery of employment across industries. While in some industries employment is still down 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels, in other industries the number of jobs has increased by 20-40% compared to February 2020.

Here are some examples how COVID has been reshaping the labor market:

  • In September 2021, the number of jobs in car manufacturing was 19.4% below the pre-pandemic level. Despite robust demand, car manufacturers have been unable to increase production because of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. The 2020 layoffs may also push further robotization of production; car manufacturing already has the highest robot density of any major U.S. industry.
  • COVID accelerated the rise of e-commerce, which reduces employment in offline stores and creates jobs in delivery services. While employment in retail clothing stores is still 15% below pre-pandemic levels, the number of couriers has increased 20% since Feb. 2020.
  • Taking care of pets and gardening are activities Americans have taken comfort in during the pandemic. The number of jobs in nursery, garden, and farm supply stores and in animal food production has increased 13.5% and 10%, respectively, compared to before the pandemic.
  • Finally, amid soaring demand for homes, the number of mortgage brokers in September 2021 is up 37% compared to February 2020.

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