It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses across the nation, caused events to be canceled, and forced people indoors. The impact of the pandemic has been widespread and long-lasting, affecting everything from the economy to social life to mental health—in addition to claiming more than 535,000 lives in the United States alone.
Experts are predicting that the full impact of COVID-19 is still to be seen and could affect our nation for years to come. Although virus cases and deaths are trending downward and the new vaccines offer hope for herd immunity, some aspects of life may never go back to the way they were.
The job market is one example. Certain industries have pivoted as a result of the pandemic and may never revert back to their pre-COVID ways. Businesses have also developed new processes and procedures to account for social distancing and other governmental regulations, and many of these strategies may stick around.
Here are five ways COVID is changing the job market and how business is done in the United States.
- An increased focus on remote work. During the height of the pandemic, nearly 25% of employees in the United States worked remotely. The shift was so massive that many companies decided to make permanent changes to their work-from-home policies and allow for more remote employment opportunities. For example, according to CNN, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg said up to half of Facebook employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years.
- New retention strategies. Social distancing regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that many companies had to get creative with strategies for employee retention and building company culture. In-person events, happy hours, and meetings were less available and attractive, so many businesses took their teambuilding online. COVID-friendly retention strategies have included setting up online mentorship programs, hosting virtual employee mixers, and offering employee perks or discounts. Many of these strategies are likely to stick around post-pandemic.
- Fewer opportunities for recent grads. During the pandemic, many businesses downsized or eliminated their internship programs. This, in turn, limits the post-graduation career choices for many students. According to a OneClass survey, 71 percent of respondents who lost internships because of COVID-19 reported that opportunities in their desired field of study had been diminished, and 4 percent said they were unable to graduate on time or had to change majors as a result.
- An uphill climb for women and minorities. Efforts to improve employment and income equity took a hit during the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, the unemployment rate for women in May 2020 was around 17.8 percent, while the national average at that time was around 16 percent. Black and Hispanic women were even more susceptible to employment changes during the coronavirus pandemic. The unemployment rate for Blacks is currently about 13 percent, compared to 10.5 percent for Hispanics and 7.3 percent for Whites, according to the BLS.
- Good news for healthcare workers. Five of the fastest growing employment sectors in the United States are related to healthcare and social assistance. They include occupations such as nurse practitioners, therapy assistants and physician assistants. BLS reports that these occupations are expected to grow by 30 percent from 2019-29.
College graduates are facing a long, uphill climb when it comes to securing employment that meets their qualifications and requirements. That’s why RecDiv created an online job platform specifically to connect HBCU students and alumni with employers looking to hire diverse talent. RecDiv is the first online job platform created specifically for students and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. RecDiv connects employers with qualified candidates from HBCU and provides students with the career tools and resources they need to succeed. Check out our site to learn more.