The U.S. economy has changed significantly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread business and economic changes the pandemic has ushered in.
While in-person industries like dining and hospitality have suffered, along with many blue-collar jobs that can’t easily be performed remotely, white-collar workers have been less hard hit, thanks to a surge in telecommunications technologies that have generated enormous revenues for the companies that provide them.
Changes in the Nature of Work Persisting
When the pandemic began, many Americans expected a brief period of change before quickly returning back to normal. But the changes the country has seen have lasted longer than many expected and seem likely to have permanent impacts on the American and global economies.
In an article for CNN, Anneken Tappe reported on comments made by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at a recent European Central Bank forum, during which Powell suggested that many displaced workers might find their old jobs are permanently lost in a post-COVID world.
The pandemic, Powell said, has accelerated some trends that were already emerging—like the increasing use of technology and telework. These impacts, he said, will be lasting. And, while the long-term effects are likely to be positive in the short term, like any sudden change, they’re creating significant disruption for many. In addition, he noted, “the pain isn’t shared evenly.”
Lower-Paid Workers Feel More Pain
Lower-paid employees, and those in jobs that require face-to-face interaction, like retail and restaurant workers, are bearing the brunt of the pain associated with disruption during the pandemic. “These groups, heavily skewed towards women and minorities, have already been among those most affected by pandemic layoffs,” Powell said.
While this economic disruption has had, and is likely to continue to have, negative impacts on certain industries and their workers, there are opportunities for companies whose business remains steady or has even grown in the changed economic environment.
There are millions of workers whose previous jobs may no longer exist in the future, and there are industries that may need to hire large amounts of new staff to support growing demand for their products and services.
The opportunity—and challenge—for recruiters and training departments is how to help transition those employees to the jobs seeing a surge in demand.