- ‘Tis the season. 64% of job seekers looking for seasonal work think that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder to find a seasonal job this year than in years past. 51% of seasonal job seekers said that they were interested in jobs in multiple industries, reflecting how a tough job market has caused many to be open to a variety of roles.
- The cost of remote learning. 72% of job seekers with school-age children report that their kids are doing remote school for at least part of the time. One-third of these parents left their last job for reasons related to school closures or remote schooling, and 65% of them are now seeking work-from-home jobs.
- Job market recovery has stalled. Job seekers perceived the job market to be more difficult in November than in previous months and were also more pessimistic about future prospects. Almost one-quarter of job seekers in November believed that the job market will get worse in the next month, up from just 15% in October.
The U.S. economy and job market recovery slowed down substantially in November. The BLS Jobs Report for last month shows that the economy added just 245,000 jobs, the fewest number since the economy lost a record 20.8 million jobs in April due to the economic shutdown. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.7% (down from 6.9% in October), but BLS data shows that the drop was mainly due to workers leaving the labor force rather than finding new jobs.
As we head into the holiday season, the U.S. is experiencing record COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Unsurprisingly, improvements to the job market have slowed just as the COVID situation has intensified.
In our November U.S. Job Market Report, the team at Joblist sought to understand how the pandemic is affecting how seasonal workers, parents with school-age children, and job seekers everywhere are approaching their job searches this holiday season. We surveyed close to nine thousand Americans — including full-time, part-time, unemployed, and furloughed workers — to see how all types of job seekers view the current job market and their outlooks for the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major effect on seasonal hiring this year. While some companies like Amazon and UPS continue to ramp up their hiring, many smaller businesses may be wary to take on seasonal employees due to concerns about future sales, store closures, and possible supply chain disruptions. Additionally, consumers will be doing much more shopping online this holiday season, affecting the types of seasonal jobs that are available — for example, we are seeing more warehouse and delivery jobs and fewer in-person sales positions than in years past.
In a recent survey of Joblist job seekers, 46% of survey respondents reported that they are interested in seasonal jobs. However, 64% of these job seekers think that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder to find a seasonal job this year. Among job seekers interested in seasonal employment, retail and customer service are the most commonly sought-after industries, with warehouse jobs and delivery positions next in order of popularity. Interestingly, 51% of seasonal job seekers also said that they were interested in jobs in multiple industries, which reflects how this tough job market has caused job seekers to be more flexible and open to a variety of roles.
With millions of Americans still out of work and facing an unusual and challenging job market, seasonal work might sound promising as a stopgap. However, over half of job seekers said they are not interested in a seasonal job, with 65% saying that they would prefer a permanent position instead. Most seasonal jobs require at least some face-to-face interaction, which adds a degree of risk this year. And indeed, about 29% of job seekers not interested in seasonal work cited the risk of working in a crowded environment as a reason why they aren't interested. Remote school and school closures also can make it difficult for many parents to take on a seasonal position, and so schedule constraints were reported as a blocker by 13% of job seekers uninterested in seasonal work.
Despite the additional risks of seasonal employment as well as the increased difficulty of finding a seasonal job this year, just 11% of job seekers who are not interested in a seasonal job said that they would be interested in a normal year. Although the pandemic is making finding seasonal jobs harder, it is not completely dissuading typical season workers from looking for this type of work in 2020.
While some schools never opened at all, many other schools are scaling back in-person learning or closing again as COVID-19 cases surge across the country. Millions of school-age children are currently doing remote learning, leaving their parents to juggle childcare and remote learning supervision as well as working their own jobs. Nearly one-third of Joblist job seekers have school-age children, and 72% of this group report that their children are doing remote school for at least part of the time. Over one-third of these parents are employed full-time.
Not unexpectedly given the challenges that remote school poses to parents, remote school has had profound impacts on job searches for parents. Over 80% of these parents reported at least one impact that their children’s remote school has had on their job searches. Working from home (46%) and flexible schedules (42%) are the most desired job amenities that parents of remote schoolers are looking for. A large share of parent job seekers (30%) are even looking for a new type of job or industry because of the remote schooling situation.
Astoundingly, over one-third of job seekers with kids in remote school reported leaving their last job for reasons related to school closures or remote schooling. A majority of these job seekers (65%) are looking for work-from-home jobs. Remote learning has come at a steep cost for many families — whether it be from the stress of rearranging work schedules or reducing hours, finding childcare, or leaving a job altogether.
Future Outlook on Employment
The tepid November Jobs Report from the BLS shows that the U.S. economy added just 245,000 jobs last month. Jobs data from the last several months has indicated that the recovery is slowing, but November’s jobs numbers seem to indicate that the recovery has nearly stalled.
Reflecting the reality that was quantified in the BLS report, results from a recent Joblist survey of job seekers across the country indicate that they are now facing more challenges in the job market than in prior months. Survey results show that job seekers perceive the job market to be more difficult than in October. About 53% of job seekers say getting a job is “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult,” up from 50% in October. However, job seeker estimates for the length of time to find a new position are slightly improved compared to last month.
Job seeker pessimism increased sharply in November. Almost one-quarter of job seekers believe that the job market will get worse next month, up from just 15% in October. While 27% of job seekers still expect the job market to improve, this is a drop of five percentage points from October. Increased job seeker pessimism could be due to several factors, including COVID-19 surges, political uncertainty, or end-of-year hiring slowdowns.
In order to track job seeker’s perceptions about the difficulty of the job market as well as their level of optimism for the future, Joblist created a new Job Seeker Confidence Index (shown in the graphic below). Using survey data beginning in July, the index shows how job seekers are feeling about the job market each month. The November Job Seeker Confidence Index shows that job seeker confidence decreased from last month after several months of being relatively stable. November job seeker confidence is similar to what it was in July. In November, the Confidence Index stands at 54.8, down from 58.4 in October. A Confidence Index of 80 or more would denote a very high degree of job seeker confidence, whereas a Confidence Index of 25 or less would denote an extremely low degree of job seeker confidence. Despite all the disruption to the job market this year, we remain in a middle range between these extremes.
It will be very interesting to watch whether optimism improves as we approach 2021, with potential January hiring increases and vaccine rollout on the horizon.
This holiday season is like no other, in many ways. The seasonal job market has felt the impacts of the pandemic, and many job seekers believe finding seasonal employment is more difficult due to COVID-19. While many job seekers would rather have a permanent job, some job seekers aren’t interested in seasonal work due to the risks posed by COVID or because of schedule constraints. Remote schooling has imposed its own set of challenges on working parents. In response, many of these parent job seekers have left their jobs or are looking for jobs with more flexible schedules or ones that can be done from home.
Job seekers perceived the job market to be harder in November than in October and are much more pessimistic about the future job market. As the United States sets new records in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, some parts of the country are already setting restrictions on businesses. Hiring may slow even further in response. In the coming winter months, Joblist will continue studying how the pandemic is impacting the job market and job seeker attitudes in particular.
In this difficult market, it’s more important than ever for every person to find the right job for their specific needs. At Joblist, we know every job search is different. Helping you find the right job means surfacing results tailored to your experience, industry, and job priorities. Whether you’re a recent graduate, unemployed due to COVID-19, or looking for a remote-work opportunity that will let you keep your home office, Joblist will curate personalized matches based on criteria that you define. Even better, you're not alone in the process — Joblist enables you to share the list of jobs you're interested in with your friends, family, and others in your network so that they can also participate in your job search.
We surveyed 5,001 American job seekers about their outlook on the current job market and expectations for the future. We also surveyed an additional 2,870 job seekers about their interest in seasonal jobs in light of COVID-19. Finally, we surveyed 1,057 parents with school-age children about how remote schooling was affecting their job search.
All 8,928 survey respondents were Joblist users in the United States. The surveys were conducted over the course of November 2020.
This data has not been weighted, and it comes with some limitations. All of the information in this study relies on self-reporting. With self-reporting, respondents may overreport or underreport their answers and feelings to the questions provided.
The Joblist Job Seeker Confidence Index was created from several survey questions — how difficult job seekers perceive the market to be, how long they expect it will take to find a new job, and how optimistic they are about the future of the job market. Survey responses were rescaled and averaged to create a composite index.
Fair Use Statement
It’s difficult to predict exactly what the future will hold, but we hope this data helps paint a more vivid representation of the job market in America today. Share these findings with your readers for any noncommercial use by including a link back to this page so they have full access to our methodology and results.