Capitol Report: Coronavirus causing a 75% spike in demand for new hires in this sector
Job openings for cleaners are shooting through the roof as the U.S. mobilizes to contain the coronavirus, but hiring is likely to plunge in industries suffering most from the interruptions in daily life.
The online jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter says help-wanted ads for cleaners are on track to surge 75% in March compared to a year earlier. By contrast, they were just 24% higher in January.
“There’s been a huge spike in demand for cleaning workers,” Julia Pollack, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told MarketWatch. “We didn’t see much of a change in February, but the first few weeks of March we are seeing a big shift.”
Many companies, workplaces and transportation systems are trying to assure customers they are safe by sanitizing and deep cleaning their premises. That’s leading to a steep increase in demand for cleaning services, Pollack said.
Postings for work at hospitals and other health-care jobs have also risen, though not as rapidly. Unemployment in the industry is already at a record low of 2% and there’s not a very large pool of qualified candidates for hire, according to Indeed Hiring Lab. These jobs also require more skill and often involve licensing requirements.
The news is not so good for retailers, restaurants, hotels, airlines and other companies that cater to a public increasingly reluctant to venture out. Help-wanted ads are drying up for jobs in those fields.
“While there hasn’t been much evidence of layoffs yet, we can see where hiring is slowing down,” Pollack said.
The ‘social distancing” being encouraged to limit the spread of the COVID-19 illness couldn’t come at a worse time for already struggling brick-and-mortar retailers. They could lose more business to Internet-only rivals as Americans shift even more to online shopping to avoid exposure to large crowds.
“The retail apocalypse was really severe in 2019,” Pollack said. “It’s likely to get worse this year accelerate the trend toward e-commerce.”
Other industries expected to take a big hit include energy and manufacturing.
The plunge in U.S. and global travel have sent oil prices tumbling. At the same time disruptions in global supply chains have wreaked havoc on manufacturers that still haven’t fully recovered from the U.S. trade war with China.
What might help keep the labor market stabile is temporary employment for the U.S. Census. The government is aiming to hire 500,000 people to canvass the country in the next few months for the once-in-a-decade Census taking.
“This might pull in some people who temporarily lose work due to the virus,” Pollack said.
That is, assuming the government proceeds as planned with the Census. Sending 500,000 people around the county to survey tens of millions of Americans is not an ideal strategy amid a nationwide effort to suppress an epidemic.
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