The U.S. economy lost over 22 million jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of February 2021, roughly half of those jobs have reappeared, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies 3.4 million of the lost jobs as permanent.
Many of these include jobs at hotels, airlines, restaurants, bars, entertainment, and other hospitality and leisure jobs. But most industries — such as retail, construction, manufacturing, and education — find themselves struggling to some extent. Even side hustlers feel the pinch, from Airbnb landlords to Uber drivers to dog walkers.
Yes, these industries face an uphill battle as the economy continues its limping, inconsistent recovery, with many schools and offices still shuttered. But not every company faces a drop-off in demand.
Some businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations have seen a spike in demand in the wake of the outbreak. If you worry your job may be on the chopping block, explore these full-time positions and employers so you can retool your skill set if you need to make yourself hirable in a new field.
Pro tip: If you’re looking to land a new job, start your search with ZipRecruiter. They have millions of careers in many different industries.
No one wants to go to the mall right now. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have physical needs like clothes, kitchen essentials, books, and other home goods.
So even as brick-and-mortar retailers suffer, many online stores have seen an uptick in orders. With so many Americans working from home for the first time, many see fresh appeal in online shopping and free delivery.
Look no further than Amazon’s announcement about hiring another 100,000 new employees, its fourth such hiring spree in 2020. Many of those jobs lie in order fulfillment through distribution centers and ensuring that orders go out on time. Amazon even announced $2 raises for many hourly employees in the United States, sweetening the pot further.
Even Target, better known for its in-store experience, continues hiring full-time employees. They have over 10,000 jobs posted around the U.S. — again, largely in online order fulfillment as many of their sales shift to digital.
Similarly, Walmart is also looking to beef up its online division and fulfillment centers. Between Walmart and its Sam’s Club arm, the retail giant currently advertises over 34,000 open positions.
We all know people still need toilet paper, after all.
My mother went to the grocery store early in the pandemic only to find the poultry section empty. She asked an employee when they expected more chicken in and got a surprising response: “Lady, we have pallet after pallet of chicken in the back. But we don’t have enough workers to restock our shelves as quickly as customers are emptying them.”
When people stop eating out at restaurants, they eat more meals at home. That means — you guessed it — more grocery sales.
Grocery stores need more frontline cashiers, more inventory stockers, and more delivery drivers — more help across the board. If you used to work as a server or bartender or retail clothing cashier and lost hours (or even your entire job), you may find temporary respite in the grocery business.
Grocery chains including Kroger (which owns multiple grocery brands, including Ralphs and QFC), Albertsons (which owns over a dozen brands, including Safeway, Acme, Tom Thumb, and Carrs), Meijer, and Costco need temporary help. The jobs may not meet your long-term career goals, but they can certainly help pay the bills until your industry regains its feet.
Many of the jobs fall on the online side of the grocery industry, which to date has remained relatively small. But during the pandemic, more consumers have found themselves ordering groceries online. This raises another open role among grocers: home delivery drivers.
Pro tip: Instacart recently announced they’ll be hiring 300,000 new team members to help handle the increased demand in grocery delivery. If you’re looking for a side hustle, this might be a great time to sign up to become an Instacart Shopper.
Contact Tracing Jobs
While a few contact tracing jobs involve specialized skills like data analysis or developing mobile apps to aid in contract tracing, most of the jobs simply involve telephone work. Contact tracers reach out to people who have been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. They provide essential information, such as where to go locally to get tested, recommendations for self-quarantining, and even basic tips like how to order groceries online.
This job typically pays between $17 and $25 per hour and sometimes includes benefits. One perk even more valuable than usual: You can do it from home.
While not a silver bullet in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, contact tracing serves a critical role in reducing transmissions, especially among the most vulnerable population. Every infected person you prevent from seeing and passing the virus on to others, particularly older relatives, helps avert many cases and even deaths.
It’s literally lifesaving work, even if it doesn’t look or feel glamorous. Note that these are largely temporary positions, however.
With so many Americans staying home, the demand for delivery services has exploded. Just because people can’t visit their favorite restaurants doesn’t mean they suddenly want to cook for themselves.
If you previously drove for Uber or Lyft and have seen your fares drop to a trickle, you can earn money with your car by delivering meals or groceries instead. Delivery services like Instacart, DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, and Uber Eats all need plenty of help getting orders out right now. There are also traditional delivery restaurants and pizza chains, like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s.
Again, it’s probably not your long-term vision for a career. But you still need to pay the rent until the mayhem passes and businesses resume regular operation, and at least you can work these part-time gigs on your own schedule.
And delivery jobs don’t end with meal and grocery delivery. With the spike in e-commerce activity, there are more packages to deliver. FedEx has over 5,000 jobs posted, while UPS plans on adding 100,000 jobs this holiday season.
It’s been a mixed year for the medical industry. Health care workers doing any coronavirus-related work have seen a spike in demand, while more elective health care practices have lost demand.
Many health care providers, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and urgent care facilities, need more help than usual in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are still getting sick and injured in all the conventional ways, but the coronavirus outbreak has put new strains on our health care system. From screenings and tests to treatment and ventilators, many medical facilities are struggling to meet demand.
Not all these jobs require you to show up in scrubs, either. Some jobs allow workers to work remotely as part of a virtual health care team. For example, Amwell Medical Group (formerly Online Care Group) is hiring for both on-site and remote positions.
If you’ve been thinking about transitioning into a health-care-related field, strike now while the proverbial iron’s hot.
Labs, Biotech, Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, & More
With all the health care spending at the moment comes corollary spending in related fields.
Labs processing coronavirus tests are seeing an uptick in addition to all their usual health testing. And the more people who visit the doctor with a COVID-19 scare, the more business labs do.
A wide range of biotech and pharmaceutical companies have engaged in the high-stakes race to develop coronavirus vaccines and treatments. To the winners go potentially billions of dollars in spoils.
But effective vaccines and treatments only make up a fraction of the ancillary coronavirus-related spending taking place at the moment. All of these companies benefit from the general sense of health panic, as demand for health-related products and services booms.
Biotech firms like Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and BioMarin continue hiring at breakneck speeds. Johnson & Johnson, which produces everything from biotech to home health products, can’t fill positions fast enough. Many of their home health products saw a run over the last few weeks — you can’t find their hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes on a single retail shelf in the U.S.
Medical lab and diagnostics companies like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics have posted similar demands for help. Medical equipment and device sales are up. Health care intelligence and data companies like PRA Health Sciences continue hiring.
There are also all of the COVID-19 testing centers. From existing pharmacy stores like Walgreens and CVS to pop-up test sites, all of these centers need personnel.
If it’s medicine-related, it’s probably seeing higher demand right now. And many of these jobs allow remote work — not just temporarily during the pandemic, but permanently.
Government Health-Related Institutions
In the public sector, health-related organizations have also ramped up spending.
Beyond the obvious academics, researchers, doctors, and epidemiologists, these institutions also need support staff. That staff includes grant reviewers, data analysts, public-relations personnel, and administrative support.
Federal public health organizations as varied as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Health all need more help. And of course, each state has its own public health department, each of which has also shifted into overdrive.
Regardless of your background, these organizations are hiring, even for entry-level positions, many of which don’t require a college degree.
Tech & IT
Companies still need websites updated, mobile apps designed, intranets managed, cybersecurity, systems administration, and the hundreds of other technical services required in a digital age.
In fact, many need more digital services than ever, as millions of Americans start telecommuting for the first time. Teams need communication and collaboration tools like Slack and nTask and project management tools like Basecamp and Asana.
And of course, government health offices, contractors, and health care organizations all need plenty of tech services as well.
Sweetening the deal, many of these jobs offer telecommuting. You can apply from anywhere, work from anywhere, and continue doing so long after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
Now makes a great time to make that Internet technology career switch you’ve been procrastinating on for years. You don’t necessarily need to be a tech nerd, either — these companies need plenty of lower-tech workers such as customer service representatives.
ZipRecruiter saw a 75% spike in cleaner job listings early in the pandemic, according to MarketWatch. With people in every office, home, warehouse, and factory in America suddenly terrified of virus transmission, cleanliness is more vital than ever before.
With many offices and warehouses temporarily closing, however, these jobs may prove short-lived. Still, there are nearly 286,000 cleaning jobs currently listed on ZipRecruiter.
That level of demand leaves the door open to those with little or no experience — people just looking to get through the next few months. Temporarily marooned hospitality workers may bridge their income here as they wait for their restaurants, bars, hotels, and salons to resume business.
Construction & Home Improvement Companies
The coronavirus pandemic proved a perfect storm for real estate in the United States.
To begin with, some investors look at the record stimulus money, loans, and new currency created by the federal government and see inflation in the years to come. To protect against that inflation, many investors have turned to real estate.
But there was already a housing shortage, particularly on the lower end of the market. The pandemic-driven run on real estate only exacerbated it.
Homebuilders haven’t failed to notice. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, building permits were up 17.3% in December compared to a year earlier.
Americans have spent far more time in their own homes over the last year, which in turn has driven demand for larger homes with more square footage and more land and outdoor space. And the ability to telecommute has allowed many to move out of city centers toward the suburbs, rural areas, or even further afield to more remote areas. The Census Bureau notes that new residential construction projects for single-family homes are up 12% year-over-year.
All of this means a boom in new home construction and all the industries that support it up and down the supply chain.
>Many homeowners have decided to upgrade or expand their homes rather than moving. That’s led to a surge in demand for home improvement materials from stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, both of which have done well and hired plenty of full- and part-time positions during the pandemic.
This also means contractors specializing in home improvement have done well. Many have hired new full-time and part-time workers.
Depending on what they sell, some virtual businesses are struggling, while others are flourishing.
For example, online businesses selling goods and services to restaurants and hotels have had a bad month, with no immediate relief in sight. Those selling household and industrial cleaning products have — pardon the expression — cleaned up.
Many companies still need digital marketers, salespeople, project managers, customer service professionals and call center workers, writers, and other virtual workers. In my own business, which serves real estate investors and landlords, we haven’t seen any dip. If anything, we’ve seen more interest, as investors look for a more stable place to park their money than the stock market.
Virtual jobs network FlexJobs has roughly 29,000 open jobs currently listed, all for digital work. From tiny startups to major international corporations, all these employers need more digital workers, and pronto.
When we look back in years to come, we’ll find that the coronavirus pandemic accelerated many of the trends already taking place in our society.
Telecommuting had gradually risen for the last 15 years. The COVID-19 outbreak caused millions of Americans to start telecommuting suddenly — and some will likely negotiate permanent telecommuting when the crisis passes.
In turn, that will accelerate the slow decline for physical office space. As more businesses go virtual, more corporate space will convert to residential or coworking usage. Consider the nation’s capital, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country. Since 2008, over 7.9 million square feet of office space in Washington, D.C., has been converted to residential use, according to commercial real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle.
Digital payments have increased for decades. But the coronavirus is suppressing cash payments more than ever, as we jump closer to a world without wallets.
Telemedicine, remote learning, physical retail decline in favor of online retail — these are all gradual trends over the last decade that have suddenly been thrown into high gear.
In many ways, our society will return to normal once the outbreak passes. But not in all ways, and many preexisting trends in how we work and live will see a permanent acceleration, even after the panic ends.