RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the economy leans toward recovering from COVID-19 pandemic, NBC12 is tracking the jobs and industries that are starting to hire, once again. Economists agree that the outlook for the national job market is tough right now- and equally difficult to predict. But all hope is not lost.
According to CareerBuilder, the top industries hiring during the first full week in July are administrative support and waste management, health care and social assistance, retail and transportation and warehousing, respectively.
The top four jobs with the most openings according to CareerBuilder are tractor-trailer truck drivers, registered nurses, retail sales supervisors, and software developers.
More than a million unemployment claims have been filed in Virginia since January, surpassing all initial claims filed from mid-2014 through 2019, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
“Right now, the unemployment rate is at its highest level since the great depression,” Dr. Adam Blandin, an Economist and Professor at VCU said. “Every major industry that we’ve looked at- employment has gone down, not up.”
Since the pandemic hit in March, the unemployment rate tanked in April, hitting about 14 percent nationally. Industries like restaurants and retail took a dive.
“Car dealerships, clothing stores, stores you find at the mall... and then also leisure and hospitality… hotels, bars and restaurants, concert venues,” Blandin said.
The economy got better in May and June, as COVID-19 cases started to stabilize and more businesses reopened in Phases 2 and 3. But Dr. Blandin says another apparent uptick in some regions of the country, has paused the momentum. Virginia’s percent positivity rate has crept back up to about 7 percent from 6 percent.
“In late June and early July, it looks like that may have slowed a bit,” Blandin continued.
Working from home has become the norm for a large percentage of Americans, looking to maintain their jobs.
“A key predictor of who’s going to lose their job, is whether you’re able to work from home or not,” Dr. Blandin said, noting his most recent research on employment trends across the country.
Blandin conducts a biweekly survey of thousands of Americans, gathering data on who is still working, laid off, and job hunting. His research found about half of those surveyed with a college degree, are now working remotely. For those with a high school degree, it’s only around 15 percent.
Senior economist with the Virginia Employment Commission Timothy Aylor urges those out of work because of the pandemic not to lose hope.
“There are lots of pockets (of opportunity) out there, and we just have to keep the momentum going, hopefully,” Aylor said. Delivery services, like at grocery stores, have skyrocketed during the crisis.
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Aylor says there's also a lot on the horizon for Virginia in general, like shipbuilding in Newport News and the possibility of casinos popping up in areas like Richmond, after new legislation was passed.
“After we pull out of this, I think we could really get into high gear,” Aylor said.
Another big question that remains to be answered is whether companies are rehiring previous employees when they open back up, or if they are hiring new people.
“If they’re hiring new people, that might be a great industry to apply to,” Blandin said. “But if most of those jobs are just recalling old employees, it may be very hard for a new person to crack their way in.”
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