One chart shows which jobs had the biggest drop in employment since the start of the pandemic

One chart shows which jobs had the biggest drop in employment since the start of the pandemic
Waiters wear face masks as they serve people sitting in outside seating at the P.J. Clarke's restaurant at Rockefeller Park in lower Manhattan during the fourth phase of the coronavirus reopening on Aug. 05, 2020 in New York, New York.Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
  • Not all industries are experiencing the same amount of job losses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The following chart shows who is taking the biggest hit from the pandemic's effects on employment, along with their typical pre-pandemic wages.
  • The industries with the largest drops in employment from July to February tended to pay lower wages, while high-wage workers seem to see little change in employment from pre-pandemic levels.

While the coronavirus pandemic has led to a deep decline in employment across the US, not all occupations have taken the same hit.

April saw the worst US monthly job loss on record, with over 20 million jobs lost in that month alone. The May, June, and July monthly job reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics all showed a partial reversal of those losses, but employment is still well below pre-pandemic levels for many jobs. Across the economy, there are still nearly 13 million fewer nonfarm payroll jobs than in February.

Making matters harder for American workers, many of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy also have below-average wages.
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The following chart highlights the percent change in the number of jobs in various industries between February to July for the different US sectors using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and median hourly wage figures from BLS' Occupational Employment Statistics program from May 2019.

Most industries saw a net job loss since the start of the pandemic, except for a handful that saw small increases from February. The jobs that experienced the greatest declines were typically low-wage jobs. In contrast, typically high-wage jobs saw the smallest declines.

For instance, data processing jobs that typically earn $36 per hour only saw employment decline by 1.9% from February to July, while food services employees only earned around $11 per hour and saw a drop in employment of 21.4%. Motion picture and sound recording jobs earn around $21 per hour and saw employment drop by half, the largest decline in employment from February to July across US sectors.
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The data reinforces what different studies have been finding about the effects of the coronavirus on employment. A previous study from McKinsey & Company found jobs most at-risk to feeling the short-term effects of the pandemic include those with low-income workers and low educational attainment, along with small businesses.

In a survey by the University of Chicago, the researchers found low-wage workers, especially women, were most likely to report losing their income during the first month of the pandemic as a result of change in employment. Women make up a large percentage of workers in jobs that are vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, including accommodations and food services.
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