- The latest data on hiring, resignations and layoffs gives insight into how certain industries are faring.
- Right now, the Great Resignation is still going strong in many service industries.
- But the Great Resignation comes to an end in remote, knowledge-based roles.
If you’re in an industry that’s been desperately staffed during the pandemic, the days of being able to easily quit and take a new job may be over.
The latest release of employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that while job gains in February were stronger than economists expected, some sectors slowed. In particular, transportation and warehousing — which have seen a big boom in the pandemic era as delivery services of all kinds soared in popularity amid store closings and quarantines — lost jobs. Information, which includes some technology roles, also saw employment decline from January to February.
It’s a clear turnaround in sectors that have desperately taken on roles during the pandemic and signals that the Great Resignation may be over for pandemic industries.
“Increasingly, the expectation for 2023 is that we’re well on our way to a two-wheel economy,” Aaron Terrazas, Glassdoor’s chief economist, told Insider. “If you’re a skilled professional or a front-line worker, the job market is still very tight, but it’s clearly much softer for knowledge workers.”
The chart below shows which industries saw monthly increases or decreases in their employment level:
The information sector not only saw employment decline in February, but also in December and January, both of which also saw large overall job gains in the broader economy.
“I think what we’re seeing there is just the result of a big pullback in that area,” Nick Bunker, director of economic research at Indeed Hiring Lab, told Insider.
Bunker noted that technology also makes up a “relatively small share of employment.” Even so, the layoffs there “relieve a lot of that pandemic-era strength in that sector,” he added.
Many of the different professional and business services sectors saw a monthly increase in payrolls — but computer systems design and related services was not one of them, showing another divergence between technology and other parts of the economy.
It’s yet another example of the contradictions of the post-vaccination, post-recession economic recovery
While it’s true that sectors like professional and business services — which includes some of the tech industry — saw notable layoffs in January, those aren’t yet widespread. Workers in these so-called knowledge industries, desperate to hire and offer ever-higher wages, may be experiencing what their colleagues in blue-collar industries saw at the start of the pandemic.
“In some ways, it’s a reversal of the pattern we’ve seen for much of the last 20 years. You have to worry that it’s a temporary reversal of that pattern,” Terrazas said. “Of course, leisure and hospitality are, to some extent, dependent on incomes and expenditures elsewhere in the labor market.”
The employment data comes on the heels of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest tally of departures and layoffs, which estimated how many workers were leaving in January. These figures suggest fewer workers leaving than in recent months, especially in information and professional and business services, but still notable increases in retail trade and leisure and hospitality.
Professional and business services saw 498,000 resignations in January. That’s a significant drop from previous months, and as Terrazas told Insider, “the bounce rate really collapsed.”
In the information sector, the quit rate stood at 1.3% in January, down from 1.6% in February 2020. “This is definitely a point where the labor market has cooled and workers are leaving less often because there are simply fewer opportunities,” Bunker said.
“If you read about the Great Resignation while working from home on a computer, in your pajamas, the Great Resignation is over,” Terrazas said. “If you were still going to work or had to be out, I think the music is still playing for job seekers.”
In industries like retail and leisure and hospitality, the Great Resignation lives on. Bunker said “there’s a lot of strength in turnover” in both of those areas.
But whether the job market outlook will remain rosy for some and not for others is unclear. Terrazas said we’ve seen this story before, where the turmoil is initially very concentrated, but then there are links to other sectors below the surface.
“We saw that in 2008 with housing and financing,” he said. “We saw that in 2020 in terms of supply chains and transportation.”
Right now, the labor market slowdown is “narrowly isolated” to some risk-intensive industries, he said. What is not clear is how long it will last.
But Labor Minister Marty Walsh isn’t so worried.
“I’m really not worried long-term about it,” he told Insider. “These sectors will recover, and most of the people who have been laid off at tech companies, their unemployment is so short because so many companies are looking for tech people.”
Do you work in an industry that grew during the pandemic and is now seeing job losses? Reach out to these reporters at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.