The spread of the coronavirus has various impacts on the US labor market. The consequences are obvious not only in the psychology of US employees but also in the way they consider things evolving in the future. According to a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center about half of the US, adults are pessimistic about the future concerning the labor market, thinking very seriously about the possibility of changing working field or occupation.
More specifically, 49% of US adults who are currently unemployed or work occasionally depending on the needs of their employers and are looking for a job are pessimistic about their future job prospects. In fact, 66% of those participated in the survey said that since they have been unemployed they seriously considered changing their occupation or field of work. At the same, 34% said that they have not done this. On the other hand, there are still some people who face the future with optimism. Their current outlook on finding a job in the near future is accompanied with optimism for the 51% of the participants of the survey.
Unemployment is closely connected with psychological disorders. According to the survey, 70%of unemployed adults said that as a result of not being part of the labor market felt more stressed than usual, 56% experienced more emotional or mental health issues than usual, 53% felt like they lost a piece of their identity and 41% had more conflicts or arguments than usual with their family and friends. However, there are some people answering that they took advantage of their unemployment period. Thus, 63% spent more time on hobbies or interests and 55% enjoyed not having to work for a while.
Unemployed adults with a bachelor’s degree or more education (65%) compared with those without a four-year college degree (54%) are more likely to say they have experienced more emotional or mental health issues than usual as a result of being unemployed. Middle- and upper-income unemployed adults (65%) compared with those with lower incomes (46%) are more likely to say they have felt like they lost a piece of their identity.
It is worth mentioning that from 2019 to 2020, employment fell more sharply in low-wage jobs. More specifically, during the above period of time employment in low-wage occupations decreased by 12.5%, compared with a loss of 5.3% in middle-wage occupations and an increase of 0.4% in high-wage jobs. This figure comes in contrast with the findings during the great recession period. For example, from December 2007 to December 2009, job losses were most severely hit among middle-wage occupations. Employment in low- and high-wage occupations was only modestly affected during that period.
The explanation is simple. The great recession period mainly impacted hardest the construction and manufacturing sectors while the Covid-19 recession mainly impacted the leisure and hospitality sectors. Construction sector paid higher wages than leisure and hospitality sector. Low wage jobs such as waiters and waitresses, cashiers, retail salespersons and housekeeping cleaners had been hardly hit nowadays.
As far as unemployment is concerned, there are remarkable differences by age and education. The unemployment rate rose by 4.2% from December 2019 to December 2020 for the youngest workers, up to 24 years old. For other age groups, the increase was closer to 3 points. Also, unemployment increased by only 2 points for employees with a bachelor’s degree while it rose by about 4 points for those with less education.
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