Although the Fed is pushing for “maximum employment” in a post-pandemic recovery period, what that labor force looks like could be very different from its composition before the pandemic. However, the required skills in the new labor market may not match those of candidates looking for work, which could slow recovery. Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, told Reuters that occupational shifts, coupled with older people retiring, could slow recovery.
Reuters wrote that the labor force participation rate, or the number of adults either working or seeking work, stood at 61.5%, nearly 2% lower than its seven-year high in January 2020.
A recent study from analytics firm Chmura, as reported by Reuters, showed the difference in available jobs based on new job ads. The United States is shifting from a service-based economy to a nation of movers and makers — that is, jobs that rely on manufacturing, creating and transporting goods. Pharmaceuticals, healthcare and construction are also expected to do well, according to Chmura data. Construction jobs are only 2% below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, positions in arts, entertainment, recreation and food service may not return to 2020 levels for some time, if at all.
2.4 Million Empty Manufacturing Jobs
A study from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute uncovered a skills gap for manufacturing jobs back in 2018, noting that there could be 2.4 million jobs open in manufacturing in the U.S. by 2028. Deloitte pinpointed shifting skill sets, misperceptions about manufacturing jobs and retiring baby boomers as key factors in the skills gap. Further, the pandemic may have encouraged older adults to retire when they had planned to keep working. A New York Fed study, reported by Reuters, found that fewer people now say they are expecting to work beyond age 67 compared with pre-pandemic levels.
The skills gap for manufacturing jobs is not new but may have been exacerbated by the pandemic. “While unemployment during Covid was very high, there were many jobs open for which there is a huge skills gap,” said Sarah Boisvert, co-founder of the New Collar Network in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She points out that so-called “new collar” jobs may not require a college degree and “are well-paying and engaging career options.”
Citing digital designer, 3D printer operator and robotics service and repair technician as just a few growing occupations, she said, “What’s more fun than working with technologies right out of science fiction?”
Best of all, you can get into many of these fields through an online certification or apprenticeship program.
See: The World’s Most In-Demand Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
Find: The (Sometimes) Ugly Truth About Internships
A Nation of Movers
With more goods being manufactured, truckers and delivery drivers will become more important than ever. Everything from toilet paper to lumber fell victim to supply chain challenges during the pandemic. To keep the economy flowing, it’s crucial to manage logistics. For the labor force, this means tremendous opportunities for truckers and delivery drivers. Even as autonomous vehicles take to the road, they will still require a human behind the wheel for the foreseeable future.
“If you are somebody who is willing to drive a truck or van, or manage a staff of people who do, you can make a great living today,” says Kathy Kristoff, editor of SideHusl. “The demand for drivers is off the charts.” She said that 760,000 jobs for truckers and delivery drivers were available in December. “These were traditionally not high-paying jobs, but as the demand continues to exceed supply, that’s changing.”
Construction Needs Workers
Construction is another industry suffering from a shortage of workers. Ralph Severson, owner of Flooring Masters, jokes that construction companies are willing to hire — and train — anyone who knows how to read a tape measure. “Companies are scheduling estimates two months out and they don’t have enough help — especially skilled help such as lead carpenters [but] at this point, if you can read a tape measure, you can find a job.”
He advises workers looking to make a shift into construction to be honest about your experience on you resume, highlighting do-it-yourself projects you’ve completed successfully at home. “The world will always need carpenters, machinists and plumbers. There will always be work to be found, and becoming a skilled tradesperson can allow you freedom that retail and hospitality do not if you choose to set out on your own.”
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