Long Term Impacts of Pandemic on Job Market Sectors


By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the internship, co-op and job market for more than a year.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is now reporting the effects could continue to be felt in some job sectors for the coming decade.  

BLS has developed projections taking into account how pandemic-related circumstances are expected to affect long-term employment during the next 10 years. The forecasts assume the pandemic creates structural changes to the future job market in some industries. For example, BLS thinks there is ample reason to believe that a continued need for medical treatments and vaccines will spur demand for workers in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.  As another implication of the pandemic, increased online/virtual work would negatively affect employment in office building construction.

The data in the chart below is based on a scenario where the pandemic has a moderate-impact on the job market. BLS cautions that the projections are not intended as precise estimates of employment change over the 2019–29 decade; instead, they identify industries in which employment is subject to the most pandemic-related uncertainty. The top two industries where changes could be most pronounced in a positive way are computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, and pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing.  On the negative side, it’s expected that employment in non-residential building construction and food service and drinking places will be most adversely impacted.   

Industries Affected by Pandemic

Beyond this moderate-impact forecast, BLS also has projections based on a scenario that assumes COVID-19 has a “strong impact” on the job market.  You can look at those projections at this link: https://www.bls.gov/emp/publications/pandemic-scenarios.htm.