The Impact of Covid-19 on the Job Market

Categories: News

By Peter Landesman, Senior Business Development Manager

The most recent report from the US Labor Department shows that the US unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.3 percent in January 2021. Translating that number to individuals, at least 10.1 million persons are currently unemployed.

The most recent report from the US Labor Department shows that the US unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.3 percent in January 2021. Translating that number to individuals, at least 10.1 million persons are currently unemployed.

Although this is much lower than the rate in April 2020 (14.8 percent), unemployment is well above the pre-COVID levels of February 2020, when the rate was 3.5 percent. 

This data serves as a type of counterweight to the most recent report from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which indicates that there are nearly 6.5 million job vacancies in the country. Job vacancy increases were seen in professional and business services, transportation, warehousing, utilities, and nondurable goods manufacturing. Decreases were reported in accommodation and food services.

While this kind of information might be easier to parse and analyze when one is not directly affected, it is harder for those who have lost a job and are actively looking for work. What are some options for today’s workers seeking employment?

Gap Jobs or Side Hustles

The loss of regular income can be traumatizing. Although many workers can qualify for unemployment benefits, the benefits may not be enough to cover basic living expenses. Some workers elect to take a “gap job” as a way to generate income while looking for a more suitable opportunity.

It is easier for those workers to seek jobs in high-demand sectors, where employers often offer fast-track or even immediate employment. Examples include retail, warehouse, financial services, and call center or customer service work.

Some workers take advantage of their gap job by leveraging their access to employee-only intranets, which can expose one to career opportunities that may not be posted on public sites, such as LinkedIn or Indeed.

Still, others take on side hustles—such as driving for Uber or DoorDash—during those times when they aren’t specifically looking for a job. 

Remote Positions 

Many workers do not feel comfortable working on-site during the pandemic. It’s now possible to search for remote jobs, which often means that job seekers can work for employers that are not located near them. This significantly increases the number of job opportunities, as the search area now becomes nationwide, or even worldwide, in scope. Local employers might also offer remote opportunities that have the potential to become on-site jobs once it is safe for that to happen.

Career Pivot

Some workers may want to consider changing or pivoting in their careers. Perhaps they feel that their industry will recover too slowly from the pandemic, or will not recover at all. Acquiring new skills, or enhancing existing skills, usually requires training.

One option is to investigate training opportunities offered through The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. In Ohio, these grants, which help underwrite or defray the costs of the training, are administered on a county-by-county basis through OhioMeansJobs Centers.

Forge Ahead With a Traditional Job Search

For workers who have been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19, seeking a similar job in one’s field is often the most appealing choice, and there are plenty of employers with open positions they need to fill. However, for those who worked in industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and restaurants, exploring options beyond your chosen field might be a wise course.

Job seekers who have the skills and the experience for available jobs can still face challenges, due to the greater competition for those open positions. Of course, candidates who have the ability and desire to network; candidates who can convert strong resumes into interviews; and candidates who excel in those interviews will always have an advantage. 

Fortunately, the education and training needed to acquire these skills are precisely what JVS Career Services is now offering through their Career Success Package. JVS Career Services is currently offering free virtual career coaching sessions to anyone experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. To learn more about the wide variety of services JVS Career Services provides, please click here.