Labor Market Report for December 4th, 2020

The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) | Labor Market Report | November 5, 2020

Every other week, we will be publishing labor market industry (LMI) data and important trends to consider in the development of an equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. We are always looking for opportunities to learn, grow, and collaborate. Email to learn more.


As COVID-19 cases continue to set new records and restrictions are once again tightening, any remaining hopes of a labor market recovery in 2020 are fading. As we hunker down for a holiday season without contact outside our households, let’s check in on three sectors of the job market that have been heavily impacted by the events of 2020.


First up is retail. As readers of this blog will remember, Amazon and other big online retailers have thrived in this economy, and jobs in their warehouse and logistics facilities have made this sector one of the few industries to significantly grow this year. In the chart below, we can see how the number of job postings in the sector nearly tripled from 2019 levels, especially during the months when PUA payments were highest and the spread of the virus was less rampant. Unfortunately, the last month and a half have seen the sector return to 2019 levels as COVID cases have skyrocketed, likely due to businesses reaching optimal staffing levels and a drop in demand as out-of-work consumers reduce spending on non-essentials. To date in 2020, there has been a net gain of over 38,000 retail jobs compared to the same date in 2019, a 77% increase.

Next up is the Hospitality sector. While weekly job posting numbers varied greatly, the drop off when COVID-19 hit the region was stark. Postings crawled along at less than half of 2019 levels until the end of June when restrictions on dining began to lift. After a quick hiring spree, weekly job postings have been at or below 2019 levels for the rest of the year, with barely any spike during back-to-school (around week 33), which saw the highest number of new postings in 2019. Overall, the sector has posted around 2,000 fewer jobs in 2020 compared to 2019, a 5% decrease.
Lastly, we will look at education. With schools fully virtual in the spring, and many continuing remote learning in the fall, work in this sector in 2020 looks nothing like 2019. Hiring for jobs in education has been significantly lower in 2020 compared to 2019. Of note are the missing spikes in postings at beginning of the summer and start of the new school year. Overall, there have been 8% fewer jobs posted in the education sector in 2020 than were posted in 2019.
About the data: Data is sourced from Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights, unless otherwise noted, covering job postings in the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Metro Statistical Area (MSA), which is comprised of roughly a circle surrounding Trenton, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Camden, and Wilmington. This data is then compared to a benchmark week of February 9th – 15th, which was the last week before the economic impact of COVID-19 began to be reflected in job posting data.