The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the leisure and hospitality industry—in the U.S., nonfarm employment figures dropped to 140,000 in December. Meanwhile, local delivery job opportunities grew. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report, employment in transportation grew in the last weeks of 2020, offsetting the nonfarm payroll that has gone down.
E-commerce is buoying the warehousing and transportation market. The largest gains are from the messengers and couriers sector, with 37,000 new jobs in December. This sector is growing, with local truck driving jobs and the last-mile delivery industry booming because of the pandemic.
There were also increases in professional and business services, construction, retail trade, and warehousing. However, the declines in the leisure and hospitality industry, combined with ones in private education and government, have brought nonfarm employment down by 9.8 million compared to pre-pandemic figures.
The hospitality and leisure sector lost 498,000 jobs—nearly half a million—in the past year, and three out of four of those were in food services or drinking establishments. Apart from restaurants and pubs, employment also fell in other sectors in the hospitality industry. People lost jobs in the accommodation industry (-24,000) and the amusements, gambling, and recreation sectors (-92,000).
Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, employment in the entire industry has gone down by 23.2 percent, or 3.9 million. These sectors might get an infusion once more people receive the vaccine and events come back, which could occur as early as April 2021.
Despite the gains, overall employment in the warehousing and transportation sector is still down by 89,000 since COVID-19 hit. It is because local truck driving jobs still compete with commercial driving ones. With local employment, wages are not as high, which might be a significant concern for many people. However, local jobs also enable people to spend more time at home and have a lot less federal regulation.
Along with last-mile-type jobs, employment also rose in warehousing and storage, as well as truck transportation. Meanwhile, the ground and transit passenger transportation sectors lost jobs. With consumer demand and manufacturing on the rise, even among non-store retailers, there is more job growth in local delivery today.
Because of the COVID-19 shutdown, the need for truck drivers increased. Since people did not want to catch the virus, they turned to e-commerce and deliveries to receive and send items. Customers order meals, groceries, and supplies because they don't want to go to traditional stores. More people's budgets also went to online purchases since they were not spending on travel and transportation expenses. As such, the need for truck drivers surged, and many people who had lost their jobs in other sectors turned to transportation and delivery jobs.
The COVID-19 crisis has changed many things about the way we live, and its long-term effects are still unknown. One pressing adverse effect of the pandemic is the economic instability and the loss of jobs that it brought. People who worked in the hospitality industry are now shifting to others, like transportation and delivery, to increase their chances of employment.
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