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How Will COVID-19 Impact the Job Market?

4 minute read | May 5, 2020
Kindra Cooper

Written by:
Kindra Cooper

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As the global economy reels from COVID-19 government-sanctioned lockdowns, the job market remains unstable. Whether you’re a soon-to-be-grad, mid-career professional, or someone who’s been recently laid off and is considering a career switch, you may be wondering what this means for you.

The service sector has predictably been the hardest-hit, with restaurants, gyms, and brick-and-mortar retailers laying off workers in droves. For knowledge workers like software engineers and data scientists whose jobs can be done remotely, the results are mixed. Salesforce, Danone, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America are among the major corporations that have pledged not to lay off any workers at least through June, if not the end of the year. 

Startups, on the other hand, are having a much harder time. More than 50 startups have cut or furloughed over 6,000 employees in recent weeks. Even unicorns are struggling: Airbnb recently suspended hiring and froze $800 million of its marketing budget

But it’s not all bad news. If you’re a current job seeker, it’s heartening to know that some companies are continuing to hire—and career experts say now is not the time to give up your job search. David Chouinard, co-founder of Candor, a startup that helps tech professionals negotiate better salaries, created a user-generated database of companies that are currently hiring, laying off workers, or in the middle of a hiring freeze. 

Compiling the list, my takeaway is just how many companies are still hiring, many of them redoubling their hiring efforts—there’s a lot of opportunity,” Chouinard said. “We started to feature candidates on our layoff hiring list and many of them have already found new opportunities.”

How will COVID-19 impact your job security?

If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you’re not alone.

Many of those lucky enough to keep their job have seen their hours cut. LendEDU, a comparison site for financial products, surveyed 1,000 adult Americans two weeks apart to gauge the micro-level economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In the first survey, published on March 18, 35% of respondents said they had kept their job with no changes, while a combined 24% said their hours had been partially or completely cut. By April 1, just 24% reported keeping their job with no changes, while the proportion of job losses went from 6% to 12%.

Not only did unemployment double, but more Americans are worried about their retirement savings, while also having to dip into their emergency funds to cover expenses, which increased by 88% over two weeks,” said Mike Brown, a research analyst at LendEDU. “No one really knows when this will end, including the financial damage, and that is seen in our data.”

What is the current unemployment rate? 

Yes, things are looking dire at the moment. The US Labor Department reported that a record 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance in a two-week period at the start of April. While the official jobless rate is at 4.4% per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these figures reflect conditions in mid-March, right before numerous US states shuttered schools and non-essential businesses. Analysts predict that actual unemployment is likely closer between 13-15% percent. 

But don’t be discouraged. There is still a lot of hiring going on—if you know where to look.

Which companies are hiring right now?

As the coronavirus has shifted people’s buying (and working) habits, certain industries are experiencing unprecedented demand. With the recent boom in remote work, SaaS businesses offering software for project management, communications, and cloud computing are experiencing overwhelming demand. 

Forbes and recently compiled a list of the top 15 companies with the highest number of open jobs paying at least $60,000. The companies are ranked as follows:

  1. Amazon: 2,407 open roles
  2. Oracle: 2,350
  3. Microsoft: 2,089
  4. Dell: 1,862
  5. J.P. Morgan: 1,761

Click here to see the full list. 

Will companies become more receptive to remote work?

It’s safe to argue that COVID-19 has given us a glimpse into the future of remote work. Companies and industries that never considered remote work before have suddenly been forced to adapt. The results? Numerous studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than their onsite counterparts.

“I think there will be a large shift of companies who become less resistant to remote work,” said Kelvin Nguyen, a Springboard mentor and former software engineer at LinkedIn and Intuit. “There are still a lot more traditional organizations that have avoided any sort of remote work, but those who embrace it will realize that talent can be found everywhere.”

So what does this mean for you?

If you’re currently interviewing, play up your past experience with remote work or study. (If you’re a Springboard graduate, this should be a cinch.) Companies that are currently investing in remote work infrastructure for the first time may not want to see that investment wasted even when the government lockdown is eventually lifted.

“It could go the other way in the sense that companies that are forced into it don’t know how to manage it properly and the moment that they can go back to onsite, they will,” said Paolo Lucchino, a Springboard mentor and data scientist with a background in labor economics.

“If you think of Silicon Valley and the tech sector, and data science, employees tend to have a lot of bargaining power already, which is why flex working practices are already in place,” Lucchino added.

Just starting your job search? Do this first

To better prepare you for the learning and career journey that lies ahead, Springboard has partnered with industry thought leaders in creating a new initiative for our students and the greater Springboard community. 

Every week, we’ll be hosting a free, live Career Coach Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, featuring expert advice to offer you job search advice to prepare for a post-pandemic economy. These sessions are free and open to everyone.

Register for our next session here.

About Kindra Cooper

Kindra Cooper is a content writer at Springboard. She has worked as a journalist and content marketer in the US and Indonesia, covering everything from business and architecture to politics and the arts.