The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. labor market, and according to new data from job and review site Glassdoor, the damage done within some industries might be irreversible. Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain breaks down pandemic-affected jobs into three categories: jobs that won’t return until the coronavirus is under control, jobs that may take years to get back to pre-pandemic levels, and jobs that may never return.
Jobs that likely will not return until COVID-19 is under control include anything in the personal services, including beauty consultants and stylists as well as discretionary health care jobs like audiologists, who help with hearing aids, optometrists, and physical therapists. Event coordinators are also a part of this category. Chamberlain says that these jobs might eventually return in 2021 as long as a vaccine is available.
Jobs that might take years to come back come to full employment include those in the foodservice and education industries. “The restaurant industry is in kind of a crisis right now. The restaurants will be back after COVID; it’s just going to take years to get back to where we were in February,” he said.
Chamberlain says that positions in U.S. colleges will likely fall by the wayside and take years to return due to dwindling college enrollment numbers.
“There is a financial tsunami coming for higher education, but also local public education … Universities are just so big and expensive and have so much real estate and huge overhead that there’s a financial crisis that’s coming for them,” he said.
“It’s probably going to take two or three years to unfold completely. So I’m really worried about that. And I’m afraid that they might be under so much pressure that they might have to find ways to deliver education to students without as many people in the future, just for cost reasons.”
Chamberlain says that could have a devastating impact on U.S. cities such as Seattle, where the University of Washington is the city’s biggest employer.
The K-12 education sector also stands to be hard hit due to the prevalence of remote learning.
“Schools are not just made up of teachers, there’s a huge part of their staff, counselors and security and mental health professionals, and all sorts of support roles. Those are jobs that I’m actually the most worried about because schools have to tighten their belts. That’s where they’re going to cut first.”
Jobs that may never return include positions like receptionist, HR generalist and other office administrative roles, due in no small part to advancing technology, said Chamberlain.
“There’s been a lot of advances in artificial intelligence and automation in those fields in recent years, but it hasn’t really been adopted. And so very often in a recession, once you let people go, and then later when you’re rebuilding, you think differently about how you’re going to rebuild your workforce. I’m afraid many people might not hire back those same, you know, admin assistants and HR people,” he said.
Chamberlain is also pessimistic about in-person retail jobs. The increase in e-commerce during the pandemic spells trouble for positions such as “brand ambassador” and “product demonstrator,” two positions that Chamberlain thinks may be gone for good.
Jobs likely to suffer most in 2021 due to COVID-19
October 2020 Open Jobs
Percent Decline During COVID-19
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.