In our last examination of job loss in the COVID-19 economy, we found that several of our largest employment sectors were also hardest hit by the initial flurry of pandemic-related layoffs that occurred in late March and early April. By June, we saw these layoffs begin leveling off. So what’s been happening since?
The dashboard below takes a look at trends in two measures: initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims by week from March 7 to October 24, 2020, and job postings by month from January through October 2020. The aim is to understand parallel changes in initial unemployment claims and the MSA’s hiring landscape. The caveat here is that job postings provide just an impression of what is occurring on the ground for hiring, since (a) job boards heavily favor professionalized sectors, and (b) sometimes postings remain on job boards even when the position has been filled or if the company has elected to delay filling a job. Still, examining postings can tell us a lot about what’s in demand in the workplace.
Continue scrolling for insights from the dashboard and more about the data.
The default dashboard view (below) displays the number of unemployment claims over the pandemic period for Atlanta’s dominant hiring sectors (top). To see claims in other selected sectors, choose any given the industry from the drop-down menu to the right of this first chart view. The second chart view shows job postings for the occupation families most related to our dominant hiring sectors (bottom). To see postings for any other occupation families, select using the drop-down menu to the right of that second chart.
From the charts, we can quickly observe:
- In the dominant hiring sectors, initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims in most industries have decreased steadily since their April 4 peak. The accommodation and food services sector, however, continues to see the largest number of claims.
- Computer and mathematical occupations historically have had the highest number of postings, and have continued to do so during the pandemic. While this occupation group feeds into one of our primary hiring sectors — professional, scientific and technical services (PTSI) — that industry sector is not the dominant area of employment in the area. Additionally, PTSI did not see the same extreme layoffs that others did during the April 4 spike in UI claims.
- Healthcare practitioners and technical worker occupations typically come second in job postings, but this sector took the top spot in September.
The spike in healthcare postings may have occurred because the industry nationwide lost over a million jobs in April. The national picture began stabilizing in May, with the sector hiring hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide. Our charts show a similar trend, with unemployment claims in the sector steadily decreasing in April and May, with job postings picking up, in the case of the Atlanta MSA, beginning in June. This is reflected in the view below (note the change in scale on the Y-axis for both charts).
The velocity of job postings for positions in computer and mathematical occupations is more difficult to relate to economic effects of the pandemic. As the dashboard view below shows, when compared to healthcare and accommodation and food services, the PTSI sector experienced comparatively few layoffs, yet computer and mathematical jobs in this sector still saw an increase in job postings shortly after the pandemic-related April nosedive in jobs.
So what could be happening? Well, one clue comes from the amount of turnover in tech jobs in particular. A LinkedIn survey in 2018, for instance, found that the technology sector had the highest turnover rate of any occupational category it examined. The verdict? This sector is like a seller’s market — the skills are in high demand and the compensation is lucrative, so people leave their jobs to pursue better opportunities (read: earn more money) more frequently than in other sectors. And that churn means more job postings even if the pool of total jobs in the sector remains fairly flat.