How the most common jobs in America are impacted by COVID-19
How the most common jobs in America are impacted by the COVID-19
The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has spared practically no one. Amid mass closures and layoffs, by April more than 40% of small businesses say they may have to close for good. Passenger numbers on planes dropped more than 90%, while consumers canceled car maintenance appointments and home repairs. Most of those who lost their jobs in the earliest waves were employees whose jobs could not be done remotely.
State and local governments have seen hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenues disappear—dollars needed to pay teachers, firefighters, and police; keep trains and buses running; courts in session; roads paved; and parks mowed. Unlike the Great Depression, which crept up over years, the coronavirus blows came quickly—almost overnight for some.
Many people still on the job are clad head-to-toe in protective gear to limit their risk of exposure. Others in lower-paid jobs, like store clerks, wear thin masks and gloves and hope for the best. Technicians and repair workers are trying to figure out how to make house calls without seeing their customers, and banks are trying to figure out how to arrange complex financial transactions with clients on video screens.
To see how jobs are being impacted by COVID-19, Stacker compiled a list of the 100 most common jobs in America, using employment data from May 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released in 2020.
The impacted jobs range from physicians and lawyers to maids and preschool teachers, from dishwashers and truck drivers to welders and hairstylists—none are escaping COVID-19’s wrath.
#100. Amusement and recreation attendants
- Employment: 338,110
- Annual mean wage: $24,330 (54.5% below national average)
With amusement and recreation facilities closed due to the coronavirus lockdowns, unemployment among attendants has been severe. The outlook is grim as well. With high unemployment, people will not have money for amusement and recreation, and the venues may shrink considerably with efforts to practice social distancing.
#99. Postal service mail carriers
- Employment: 339,650
- Annual mean wage: $52,180 (2.4% below national average)
The U.S. Postal Service faces a $22 billion loss over the next 18 months due to a severe drop in mail revenue and volume during the COVID-19 outbreak, putting its very existence into question. More than 600,000 mail carriers and postal workers stayed on the job during the outbreak.The postal service has been losing money each year for more than a decade.
#98. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
- Employment: 342,040
- Annual mean wage: $51,420 (3.9% below national average)
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are testing no-contact visits, communicating remotely, and asking clients to stay away while the work is performed. But business has dropped as consumers cancel appointments and facilities managers are not maintaining HVAC in empty office buildings.
#97. Dental assistants
- Employment: 351,470
- Annual mean wage: $41,170 (23% below national average)
In April, a half million jobs were lost in dentists’ offices as lockdowns took effect in most of the country. Further pressure on jobs in dentistry is likely as demand for services is expected to remain low and Americans avoid unnecessary close contact. Dentists also say the cost of the protective gear they will need—face shields, disposable gowns, and masks—will be expensive.
#96. Network and computer systems administrators
- Employment: 354,450
- Annual mean wage: $88,410 (65.3% above national average)
Despite companies potentially cutting positions as they try to rebuild, businesses will need the skills of network and computer systems administrators to help handle the needs of millions of employees who may be working remotely indefinitely. In particular, these administrators could see increased demand for their services in the area of cybersecurity.
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#95. Recreation workers
- Employment: 358,750
- Annual mean wage: $29,330 (45.2% below national average)
Recreation workers are often gig workers and contractors unprotected by unemployment insurance. The job market is likely to be depressed with the recreation industry facing closures and a lack of consumer demand.
#94. Production, planning, and expediting clerks
- Employment: 370,380
- Annual mean wage: $50,640 (5.3% below national average)
Production, planning, and expediting clerks coordinate and schedule work flow. The heightened demand for online orders being delivered and the ability to work remotely are promising for these jobs, but manufacturing has been hit hard by depressed consumer demand, which could put pressure on available work.
#93. Cleaners of vehicles and equipment
- Employment: 382,670
- Annual mean wage: $27,940 (47.8% below national average)
Demand for vehicle and equipment cleaners has plummeted with declines in the auto, travel, and manufacturing sectors. In April, car rental giant Hertz, a huge employer of cleaners, terminated the union and non-union jobs of 10,000 workers in its North American operations.
- Employment: 383,470
- Annual mean wage: $46,120 (13.8% below national average)
The work of machinists producing precision parts cannot be done remotely, putting them in danger of exposure to the coronavirus. The economic slump puts thousands of machinist jobs in manufacturing, aerospace, defense, and transportation at risk.
#91. Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
- Employment: 385,960
- Annual mean wage: $31,530 (41.1% below national average)
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists were plunged into joblessness when salons closed and social distancing guidelines were imposed. Many workers in the field are freelance contractors with little financial cushioning and no unemployment benefits. Experts predict post-pandemic salons will work at limited capacity, checking customers’ temperatures, and everyone wearing protective masks. Blow drying would no longer be offered in order to limit the possible spread of disease.
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#90. Industrial machinery mechanics
- Employment: 387,630
- Annual mean wage: $55,320 (3.4% above national average)
Widespread layoffs hit industries where machinists produce precision parts such as aerospace, given the staggering blows taken by the commercial airlines. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which has 600,000 members, says more than 500,000 aerospace production jobs could be in danger.
#89. Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders
- Employment: 390,540
- Annual mean wage: $33,590 (37.2% below national average)
Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders operate machinery that prepares products to be stored or shipped. Positions in this field will be hit by the economic slump that is pummeling commerce, retail, transportation, and manufacturing.
#88. Physicians, all other; and ophthalmologists, except pediatric
- Employment: 390,680
- Annual mean wage: $203,450 (280.4% above national average)
Physicians have been hailed as heroes for risking their lives to help the coronavirus patients, but their job outlook is not good. Large national health care companies facing revenue shortfalls have been cutting pay and hours to emergency room doctors whom they employ and contract out to local hospitals. Health care systems have been losing money during the pandemic as elective procedures and non-COVID-19 patient volumes declined. Small medical practices without huge financial cushions are vulnerable as well.
#87. Computer occupations, all other
- Employment: 393,160
- Annual mean wage: $92,410 (72.8% above national average)
Among the hardest hit sectors in manufacturing has been computer and electronic products. Supply chain issues and depressed consumer demand mean computer occupations are likely to see heavy job losses ahead.
#86. Medical and health services managers
- Employment: 394,910
- Annual mean wage: $115,160 (115.3% above national average)
Medical and health services managers oversee facilities, departments, and practices. Demand for their services has plummeted as patients cancel routine appointments and elective procedures.
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#85. Cooks, institution and cafeteria
- Employment: 402,480
- Annual mean wage: $29,030 (45.7% below national average)
Cooks in cafeteria settings such as schools and workplaces lost their jobs as students and employees were sent home. Some post-pandemic scenarios predict cafeterias will need a smaller workforce as they use remote apps for ordering, serve fewer employees no longer clustering together, sell prepackaged food for safety, implement cashless transactions, and use touchless vending machines to avoid person-to-person contact.
#84. Sales managers
- Employment: 402,600
- Annual mean wage: $141,690 (164.9% above national average)
Sales managers work with teams of other sales professionals to drive business. But the economic blows of the outbreak have struck every major industry, making the job outlook in any number of businesses grim.
#83. Social and human service assistants
- Employment: 404,450
- Annual mean wage: $37,050 (30.7% below national average)
Social and human service assistants often work in client services such as social work and rehabilitation programs. But funding for social services will be under severe pressure as states try to cope with multibillion-dollar revenue shortfalls.
#82. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
- Employment: 405,750
- Annual mean wage: $54,210 (1.3% above national average)
Construction jobs will be hard to find, at least for the rest of this year. Non-residential building is projected to decline more than 10%, according to The American Institute of Architects in April. Before the outbreak, 2020 initially had been seen already as a year of moderately slow growth.
#81. Insurance sales agents
- Employment: 410,050
- Annual mean wage: $67,780 (26.7% above national average)
Insurance sale agents may find it difficult to work from home rather than face-to-face. As to their job outlook, insurance industry projections have said COVID-19 could slow the global economy enough that a 2021 recovery is unlikely.
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#80. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
- Employment: 410,750
- Annual mean wage: $45,190 (15.5% below national average)
New construction and transportation projects once promised heavy demand for those who specialize in the fabrication of metal products. But jobs will be scarce as spending on institutional construction alone is projected to drop 7% after initial predictions for the year of nearly 3% growth.
#79. Counter and rental clerks
- Employment: 411,560
- Annual mean wage: $32,600 (39.1% below national average)
Counter and rental clerks handle orders, often in person. But repairs, rentals, and a host of services are in low demand, even as companies reopen, due to economic uncertainty and job losses.
#78. Pharmacy technicians
- Employment: 417,780
- Annual mean wage: $35,250 (34.1% below national average)
Large pharmacies like have announced plans to hire tens of thousands of workers during the pandemic. CVS in late March announced 50,000 new hires in full-time, part-time, and temporary capacities. In April, the pharmacy chain Walgreens said it would be hiring 9,500 workers including pharmacy technicians.
#77. Correctional officers and jailers
- Employment: 423,050
- Annual mean wage: $50,130 (6.3% below national average)
Correctional officers and jailers have been essential workers, facing high risks of infection from their contact with inmates in tight quarters where disease could travel quickly. Concerns have been raised that they will face job cuts when states seek to make serious budget cuts ahead.
#76. Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop
- Employment: 423,380
- Annual mean wage: $24,010 (55.1% below national average)
By the end of April, nearly 8 million jobs had already been lost in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sectors, particularly in the restaurant and hotel industries. With an ongoing need for social distancing, restaurants will have far less need for hosts and hostesses as they shift to serving fewer customers in thinned-out seating arrangements, takeout and delivery orders, and curbside service.
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#75. Preschool teachers, except special education
- Employment: 431,350
- Annual mean wage: $34,650 (35.2% below national average)
Parents at home full time with preschoolers during the coronavirus lockdowns may be discovering a new appreciation for the skills and patience of their children’s teachers, who are paid an average of $11 an hour. But preschool teachers face major job losses as school districts are hit with severe revenue shortfalls and look to cut costs and staff.
#74. Computer and information systems managers
- Employment: 433,960
- Annual mean wage: $156,390 (192.4% above national average)
With companies like Facebook, Capital One, and Microsoft considering extending remote work for their employees, the role of computer and information systems managers would be critical in keeping technical operations running. Their expertise lies in helping determine a company’s computing system needs.
#73. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents
- Employment: 437,880
- Annual mean wage: $93,090 (74% above national average)
Sales agents of securities, commodities, and financial services are likely to face a dismal job outlook as the sinking economy swipes through every industry. Although the hardest hit sectors have been industries like manufacturing and travel, professionals in finance are facing job losses as well.
- Employment: 442,120
- Annual mean wage: $31,660 (40.8% below national average)
Consumer banking has changed in the public health crisis, and is likely to continue changing, making teller jobs more scarce. Banks are closing branches, shortening operating hours, and limiting the number of customers allowed inside their buildings. Some are adding video banking screens and remote tellers, and have upgraded ATMs to keep personal contact to a minimum. More banks are relying on drive-thru ATMS as well.
#71. Plumbers, pipe fitters, and steamfitters
- Employment: 442,870
- Annual mean wage: $59,800 (11.8% above national average)
Demand for plumbing services has dropped as homeowners postpone or cancel maintenance jobs and discretionary work like replacing old fixtures. Plumbers report a surge in demand for installation of bidets, by some accounts 10 times what it once was, after the shortage on toilet paper when the outbreak began. Some plumbers are offering virtual diagnostic services through Skype and FaceTime for easy-to-fix problems that customers can handle themselves.
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#70. Driver/sales workers
- Employment: 444,660
- Annual mean wage: $30,230 (43.5% below national average)
Drivers and sales workers depend on a bustling economy, but with unemployment at rates not seen since the Great Depression, they are likely to be idled. Because job cuts are broad, affecting nearly every sector, recovery will be more difficult without consumer spending to provide momentum.
#69. First-line supervisors of transportation and material-moving workers, except aircraft cargo-handling supervisors
- Employment: 455,390
- Annual mean wage: $57,840 (8.1% above national average)
The volume of freight moving in America plunged with the coronavirus outbreak, and with it the outlook for supervisory jobs in transportation and material moving. The number of train carloads on U.S. railroads was the lowest since industry began keeping records more than four decades ago and down more than 25% from a year ago.
#68. Financial and investment analysts, financial risk specialists, and financial specialists, all other
- Employment: 458,510
- Annual mean wage: $94,160 (76% above national average)
The expertise of financial and investment analysts will be valuable as businesses and investors navigate the complexities of a badly damaged economy. But they will not be immune from being included in the millions of workers getting laid off, experts say.
#67. Billing and posting clerks
- Employment: 466,450
- Annual mean wage: $40,620 (24.1% below national average)
Billing and posting clerks handle accounting, invoices, and record-keeping for delivery or shipment of goods. The future of the jobs is linked to the health of commerce, which has been badly hurt by the impacts of COVID-19.
#66. Personal service managers, all other; entertainment and recreation managers, except gambling; and managers, all other
- Employment: 472,060
- Annual mean wage: $118,710 (121.9% above national average)
Personal service and entertainment managers have seen their jobs disappear in the coronavirus lockdowns. Due to the close contact required with clients, the personal service sector is likely to see little recovery soon, while entertainment spaces like sports centers will be slow to reopen and accommodate customers.
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#65. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
- Employment: 477,270
- Annual mean wage: $25,020 (53.2% below national average)
Job prospects for attendants have collapsed as schools and businesses have closed, and with them, their dining rooms and cafeterias. Schools in particular have been slow to make plans to reopen, given the uncertainty of COVID-19’s path, and most have not decided what to do in September.
#64. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers
- Employment: 485,700
- Annual mean wage: $70,550 (31.9% above national average)
With the automobile sector hit hard, the job outlook for supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers is gloomy. Even if manufacturers get assembly lines back up and running with government stimulus support, healthy demand for new cars and trucks is unlikely. Amercans have purchased more than 17 million new vehicles a year for the past four years, meaning the consumer fleet is relatively new already. In the depressed travel industry, car rental giants are likely to need less maintenance of their giant fleets as well.
- Employment: 514,330
- Annual mean wage: $24,410 (54.4% below national average)
Dishwashers were hit hard and fast as the coronavirus spread. More than 5.5 million jobs were lost in food services and drinking locations. Any recovery is expected to be slow and spotty as food businesses learn to incorporate social distancing measures to keep customers safe.
#62. Cooks, fast food
- Employment: 527,220
- Annual mean wage: $23,530 (56% below national average)
Fast-food workers face a mixed outlook. Consumers tell researchers they plan to frequent such restaurants less often, citing an increased interest in home cooking or fears of exposure to the coronavirus, but others say they are visiting fast-food businesses more often than ever.
#61. Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants
- Employment: 542,690
- Annual mean wage: $62,920 (17.6% above national average)
Positions for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistant jobs fell by nearly 25% over the past five years. A government analysis carried out before the coronavirus outbreak had projected the number of jobs would fall another 20% to fewer than 500,000 by 2028. Experts say the positions are often a perk for executives that has largely fallen out of fashion.
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#60. Child care workers
- Employment: 561,520
- Annual mean wage: $25,510 (52.3% below national average)
Child care businesses are struggling to survive as families are keeping children home or are losing their ability to pay. Providers have had to face the wrenching choice of shutting down and losing their businesses or staying open and risking their workers’ health. Child care workers were struggling before the outbreak with more than half were on at least one public assistance program.
#59. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers
- Employment: 576,950
- Annual mean wage: $43,000 (19.6% below national average)
Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers are employed in industries where they look for defects, wear, and deviations in material. But industries like automaking and airplane manufacturing are in economic free fall.
#58. Substitute teachers, short-term
- Employment: 587,120
- Annual mean wage: $32,460 (39.3% below national average)
The closing of schools and students learning remotely has meant the end of most substitute work. Substitutes tend to work on contract rather than on payroll, so they are unlikely to have unemployment benefits. With the uncertainty over when students will return to the classroom, the need for substitutes is not likely to rebound soon.
#57. Computer systems analysts
- Employment: 589,060
- Annual mean wage: $96,160 (79.8% above national average)
Helping companies determine their computer system needs, these analysts could have significant responsibilities as U.S. workers continue to work remotely indefinitely. Twitter, for example, said many of its employees can work from home for however long they want.
#56. Medical secretaries and administrative assistants
- Employment: 604,780
- Annual mean wage: $38,090 (28.8% below national average)
With Americans postponing elective procedures, health care practices and clinics have lost a lot of business and revenue and are laying off workers, especially lower-paid positions such as medical secretaries and administrative assistants. More than 1.4 million jobs were lost in health care, including more than 400,000 in physicians’ and health care practitioners’ offices.
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#55. Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education
- Employment: 622,330
- Annual mean wage: $63,550 (18.8% above national average)
A May Education Week analysis projected nearly 320,000 teaching jobs might be lost if states cut their education budgets by 15% due to the economic impact of the coronavirus. That would be a loss of more than 8% of the nation's teaching jobs.
#54. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
- Employment: 626,180
- Annual mean wage: $71,440 (33.6% above national average)
Most construction projects have been stalled, and job losses in construction topped 1 million workers in April. Uncertainty over the future has led many in the industry to hold off plans to resume work or invest in new business.
#53. Industrial truck and tractor operators
- Employment: 629,270
- Annual mean wage: $37,930 (29.1% below national average)
In the construction industry, which employs industrial truck and tractor operators, the volume of work dropped by 12% in the first three months of 2020, with work on roads and railroads dropping especially sharply. Prospects for the next 12 months are flat, industry experts say, due to a lack of investment in private building and lost revenues for state and local infrastructure spending.
#52. First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
- Employment: 631,100
- Annual mean wage: $65,220 (21.9% above national average)
First-line supervisors oversee and coordinate production and operating workers, typically in manufacturing, such as precision workers, assemblers, and fabricators. Economists say the drop in consumer demand will have a huge impact on manufacturers of durable goods such as automobiles, but manufacturers of nondurable goods could see steady or growing sales as consumers restock supplies of toilet paper, food, and household products. Makers of pharmaceuticals, cleaning supplies, and soaps also are expected to see business growth.
#51. Human resources specialists
- Employment: 633,040
- Annual mean wage: $67,760 (26.7% above national average)
Human relations specialists will be busy as employees return to the office, extend their remote jobs, reconsider their benefits and wellness priorities, struggle with potential mental health consequences of the crisis, or worry about workplace safety and protocols. The human resources job outlook is uncertain, however, given grim overall economic conditions.
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#50. Packers and packagers, hand
- Employment: 633,640
- Annual mean wage: $27,680 (48.3% below national average)
Jobs for hand packers and packagers who handle and load containers and materials for shipment rely on economic activity such as retail and commerce. While retail business overall has been severely hit by the health crisis, e-commerce sales grew nearly 50% from early March through April. Online sales of electronics alone jumped 58%.
- Employment: 646,850
- Annual mean wage: $28,000 (47.7% below national average)
Although Americans’ thirst for wine and cocktails has soared, with booming sales during the outbreak, the job outlook for bartenders is not so lively. People are drinking at home, catered celebrations like weddings and graduation parties are on hold, and reopened bars will be stymied by social distancing measures to keep patrons apart. In New York City, reopening plans call for strict limits on the number of customers inside; owners say bars are too small to accommodate such measures and operating a limited capacity is not feasible.
#48. Computer user support specialists
- Employment: 647,330
- Annual mean wage: $56,550 (5.7% above national average)
Key to Americans’ ability to work from home is technology and, more specifically, computers. With about two-thirds of U.S. employees working remotely due to the coronavirus at the end of April, and many making plans to continue to do so, the role of support specialists could be critical.
#47. Financial managers
- Employment: 654,790
- Annual mean wage: $147,530 (175.8% above national average)
Financial managers are facing job losses, furloughs, and cuts in salaries and hours. Experts say the economic impacts of the coronavirus are pounding the white-collar industry as unemployment in the country hits levels not seen since the Great Depression.
#46. Automotive service technicians and mechanics
- Employment: 655,330
- Annual mean wage: $44,890 (16.1% below national average)
Demand for automobile service technicians and mechanics plunged as Americans stopped driving to work and stayed at home. As working from home becomes a long-term possibility, people will be using their vehicles less, dampening demand for repairs. Also, many car owners are postponing maintenance out of uncertainty over future income and jobs.
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- Employment: 657,170
- Annual mean wage: $145,300 (171.6% above national average)
The law business will be shaken, depending largely upon the area of specialty. Experts predict increased activity in employment, health care, insurance, and bankruptcy cases, and a drop in intellectual property, trademarks, personal injury, and litigation. Firms are likely to cast off junior associates.
#44. Police and sheriff's patrol officers
- Employment: 665,280
- Annual mean wage: $67,600 (26.4% above national average)
Police forces across the country face drastic job cuts as local government grapple with crippling revenue shortfalls. For example, with the city of Baltimore facing a shortfall of more than $100 million for next year, officials have said they are seeking to cut city employee costs by $11 million.
#43. Market research analysts and marketing specialists
- Employment: 678,500
- Annual mean wage: $71,570 (33.8% above national average)
Market research could be effective, experts say, as businesses try to read consumer behavior and position themselves once the public health crisis abates. But research shows most U.S. companies are postponing such research, either due to a lack of resources or concern that the information they get may be impermanent and of little use.
- Employment: 688,620
- Annual mean wage: $60,370 (12.9% above national average)
Electricians will feel the pinch. Residential owners may delay home improvements due to job uncertainty, and commercial construction is predicted to experience a loss of 14%, compared with initial projections of slight growth for 2020.
#41. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
- Employment: 697,510
- Annual mean wage: $48,500 (9.3% below national average)
Providing essential and basic medical care to patients, licensed practical and vocational nurses are employed in hospitals and nursing homes, where they have been front-line workers fighting the pandemic. But as lower-level workers, they are vulnerable to job losses as the industry grapples with a severe lack of revenue stemming from a drop in emergency room visits and non-essential procedures. U.S. hospitals are predicted to lose more than $50 billion a month through June, mostly from lucrative elective procedures.
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#40. Passenger vehicle drivers, except bus drivers, transit and intercity
- Employment: 700,030
- Annual mean wage: $33,210 (37.9% below national average)
Work for passenger vehicle drivers has plummeted, as riders have stopped traveling, stayed home, or chosen to ride in their own vehicles, to avoid possible exposure to infection. Some industry experts say fleets like New York City’s yellow cabs could become a relic of the past. Uber’s ride-hailing business has plunged 80%, and it has laid off about 14% of its workforce.
#39. Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks
- Employment: 704,910
- Annual mean wage: $36,030 (32.6% below national average)
Jobs for shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks depend on retail and wholesale business, which is in a terrible slump. The transport of goods in the United States is seen by some estimates slipping as much as 45% by the end of the year, darkening the job outlook further.
#38. Management analysts
- Employment: 709,750
- Annual mean wage: $95,560 (78.7% above national average)
Responsible for helping companies run more efficiently and effectively, management analysts could be in high demand as businesses start to resume operations amid a loss of revenue, markets, and demand. Their expertise could be useful as companies assess their facility needs, the size of their workforce, and ways to restructure costs.
#37. Medical assistants
- Employment: 712,430
- Annual mean wage: $35,720 (33.2% below national average)
Medical assistants often work in institutional settings such as nursing homes and jails, where they have a high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. They face significant job losses as health care clinics and practices see far less demand for elective surgeries and preventive care. An estimated 800,000 family practice employees are likely to be laid off by summer.
- Employment: 734,170
- Annual mean wage: $52,850 (1.2% below national average)
Some businesses that employ carpenters have remained open to provide essential support to local and national government facilities, but showrooms have closed, and output has been severely curtailed. Small companies like cabinetmakers Wayzata Home Products in Connersville, Indiana, shut down operations—laying off its workforce of 140—and furniture giant La-Z-Boy laid off about 70% of its workforce, some 6,800 workers.
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#35. Food preparation workers
- Employment: 863,740
- Annual mean wage: $25,820 (51.7% below national average)
Even as restaurants take steps to reopen, jobs in food preparation will be risky. Restaurant kitchens are typically small and cramped, and employees work extremely close to one another for long periods of time.
#34. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers
- Employment: 912,660
- Annual mean wage: $32,360 (39.5% below national average)
Spring is typically a busy time for landscaping and groundskeeping workers. Landscaping businesses that were deemed essential by states during lockdowns fared better than those forced to shut down. While the business climate is poor, companies with residential and commercial clients say they are seeing more job applications than usual, from applicants who have lost their previous jobs. Clients, stuck at home, are also making more demands for services.
#33. Light truck drivers
- Employment: 923,050
- Annual mean wage: $38,520 (28% below national average)
The sharp drop in consumer spending brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak spells less demand for drivers of vans and lightweight trucks to transport and deliver merchandise. Less consumer demand for large durable goods has been offset somewhat, however, by a surge in purchases of at-home food and beverages.
#32. Maids and housekeeping cleaners
- Employment: 926,960
- Annual mean wage: $26,810 (49.9% below national average)
Maids and housekeeping cleaners were stripped of work when the pandemic struck and social distancing was recommended. They are low-paid, often earning wages on an hourly basis without benefits. Their jobs may be slow to return because so many Americans are unemployed and lack extra money for household help.
#31. First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers
- Employment: 1,011,100
- Annual mean wage: $36,960 (30.9% below national average)
As many as one quarter of the nation’s restaurants may close forever due to the coronavirus outbreak. Among those still in operation, their focus is expected to move to takeout or curbside options, bringing a change in job responsibilities for those working in food preparation and service.
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#30. Construction laborers
- Employment: 1,020,350
- Annual mean wage: $41,730 (22% below national average)
Construction projects have been delayed by shelter-in-place orders, concerns for safety, a shortage of labor and materials, and a lack of available government inspectors. In an April industry survey, nearly two-thirds of construction firms were laying off or furloughing workers, and more than 10% of their projects were canceled.
#29. Secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education
- Employment: 1,035,850
- Annual mean wage: $65,930 (23.3% above national average)
Predictions of a 20% loss in school funding will mean job losses for some 275,000 teachers in large city school systems, according to officials in Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, New York, and elsewhere. Several states have called off plans for pay raises to teachers, and others are considering cutting teachers’ salaries due to revenue shortfalls.
#28. Sales representatives of services, except advertising, insurance, financial services, and travel
- Employment: 1,039,670
- Annual mean wage: $66,760 (24.8% above national average)
Working in sales, these positions will be impacted by the shrinking economy. Consumer spending, which comprises two-thirds of the U.S. economy, has plunged, particularly in the areas of food service, accommodations, health care, clothing, and footwear as Americans have stayed home to help fight the spread of infection.
#27. Receptionists and information clerks
- Employment: 1,057,370
- Annual mean wage: $31,250 (41.6% below national average)
Jobs like receptionists will be altered or altogether gone in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. In office settings, receptionists interacted frequently with the public, a role that now would put them at risk. With so many office staffers working remotely, the need for receptionists will decline as well.
#26. Security guards
- Employment: 1,126,370
- Annual mean wage: $33,030 (38.3% below national average)
Less traffic in office settings and more remote work will lessen the need for security guards. Many huge companies based in New York City, for example, are reconsidering and potentially scaling back their real estate needs as hundreds of thousands of their employees have been working remotely.
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#25. First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
- Employment: 1,171,900
- Annual mean wage: $45,830 (14.3% below national average)
With retail heading into a quagmire, supervisory jobs are likely to disappear. Malls and brick-and-mortar stores, already under pressure, are expected to continue to fail amid dampened consumer demand.
#24. Project management specialists and business operations specialists, all other
- Employment: 1,279,390
- Annual mean wage: $80,220 (50% above national average)
These specialists manage and oversee workflow and day-to-day workplace activity, but in an economic slump like the one the nation is facing, jobs will be scarce. The number of U.S. jobs lost in April—20.5 million—was about equal to the number of jobs that had been created over the past 10 years.
#23. Accountants and auditors
- Employment: 1,280,700
- Annual mean wage: $79,520 (48.7% above national average)
Work for accountants and auditors will not let up as companies struggle with job cuts, reduced revenue, supply chain and inventory disruptions, temporary shutdowns, and higher customer credit risks. But accounting firms across the country have been cutting pay, laying off and furloughing employees, and canceling or deferring bonuses and raises to trim costs.
#22. Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products
- Employment: 1,344,530
- Annual mean wage: $71,110 (32.9% above national average)
Sales representatives selling products and goods for wholesalers and manufacturers are looking at an economic climate of dampened consumer demand. But e-commerce, which allows consumers to shop and get deliveries at home without personal contact, is on the rise. Retailers looking to do more online business will be adapting methods of fulfilling orders and may increase their workforces that handle ecommerce operations, experts say.
#21. Teaching assistants, except postsecondary
- Employment: 1,346,910
- Annual mean wage: $29,640 (44.6% below national average)
With schools closed and students learning remotely, employees like teaching assistants have been sidelined. As education budgets tighten, the jobs are likely to not return.
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#20. Cooks, restaurant
- Employment: 1,401,890
- Annual mean wage: $28,700 (46.3% below national average)
Industry predictions say one in 10 restaurants is likely to fail in the outbreak and never reopen their doors. Some projections put that figure as high as three in 10. Restaurants that do survive will be struggling with severely limited capacity as they institute social distancing measures among customers.
#19. Software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers
- Employment: 1,406,870
- Annual mean wage: $111,620 (108.7% above national average)
Although some software companies boast ideal products for remote work and social distancing, like online grocery shopping apps and video conferencing, overall software development is feeling the pain of the economy’s slowdown. Many tech companies are laying off workers, implementing furloughs, and putting freezes on hiring.
#18. Maintenance and repair workers, general
- Employment: 1,418,990
- Annual mean wage: $41,960 (21.6% below national average)
Maintenance and repair work cannot be done remotely from home, putting workers in danger of exposure to the coronavirus as they do their jobs in public. Many also handle emergency repairs in buildings, causing concerns about the risks they are taking. The dire economic outlook means it is likely that a lot of maintenance and repair work will be postponed.
#17. Nursing assistants
- Employment: 1,419,920
- Annual mean wage: $30,720 (42.6% below national average)
In April, 1.4 million U.S. health workers found themselves out of work as the pandemic pummeled the nation’s health care system. One in 10 of the losses was in hospitals.
#16. Elementary school teachers, except special education
- Employment: 1,430,480
- Annual mean wage: $63,930 (19.5% above national average)
School districts across the country are projecting 15%-25% cuts in budgets next school year, which will translate into job cuts for teachers. Specialized online classes are expected to see added demand for teachers; however, private school teaching jobs are likely to decline as Americans have less money to spend.
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#15. First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
- Employment: 1,487,870
- Annual mean wage: $60,130 (12.4% above national average)
These supervisory jobs are likely to come under pressure as millions of Americans work from home, with less demand for office and administrative support. Reluctance to embrace remote working has largely been overcome at many businesses, and working from home is expected to become a permanent feature for work for many employees.
#14. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
- Employment: 1,512,660
- Annual mean wage: $42,960 (19.7% below national average)
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks will be needed as companies try to reopen, adapt the size of their staffs, redesign billing methods, or struggle to pay vendors and meet their obligations. The long-term outlook for the jobs, which often can be done remotely, is tied to the nation’s uncertain economic future.
#13. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- Employment: 1,856,130
- Annual mean wage: $46,850 (12.4% below national average)
Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers cannot work from home but say their jobs lend themselves naturally to social distancing because they spend so much time alone in their vehicles. Economically, truckers have been kept busy in the short-term with hauling food and grocery items as consumers clear out store shelves, but some say business has slowed with fewer imports from China and fewer orders being placed.
#12. Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive
- Employment: 2,038,340
- Annual mean wage: $39,180 (26.8% below national average)
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, more than 4 million people were employed as secretaries and administrative assistants. But in recent years, automation and technology have taken over many of their tasks, and the jobs are increasingly being culled as companies cut costs. The number of secretarial and administrative assistant jobs already has declined by almost 40% since 2000.
#11. Stockers and order fillers
- Employment: 2,135,850
- Annual mean wage: $29,660 (44.6% below national average)
Stockers and order fillers handle merchandise, materials, and equipment in warehouses and storage yards. But tens of millions of Americans filing for unemployment insurance benefits means scant demand for consumer goods. Before the outbreak became widespread in mid-March, the nation’s unemployment rate was at a 50-year low.
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#10. Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners
- Employment: 2,145,450
- Annual mean wage: $30,010 (43.9% below national average)
Since March, the demand for cleaning and disinfecting during COVID-19 should mean plentiful jobs for janitors. At the same time, however, the increased ranks of U.S. employees working from home could lead to companies scaling back on the extent of cleaning required at their physical facilities.
#9. General and operations managers
- Employment: 2,400,280
- Annual mean wage: $123,030 (130% above national average)
General and operations managers could be critical to companies maneuvering their reopenings, and managing their operations and workforces. But businesses are under severe pressure to cut costs, putting their jobs in danger.
#8. Waiters and waitresses
- Employment: 2,579,020
- Annual mean wage: $26,800 (49.9% below national average)
As many as one in six, even one in four, restaurants could close in the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Of those that survive, many will be concentrating on curbside and takeout orders rather than indoor table service. Restaurants also are exploring touchless ordering, delivery, and payment systems, which will not bode well for waiter and waitress jobs.
#7. Customer service representatives
- Employment: 2,919,230
- Annual mean wage: $37,320 (30.2% below national average)
Customer service representatives handle complaints, provide information, take orders, and process returns. The work often can be done remotely, especially in online retail. While research shows more than four out of 10 Americans participated in so-called comfort buying to relieve stress, the outlook for retail in the coming months is bleak.
#6. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
- Employment: 2,953,170
- Annual mean wage: $32,130 (39.9% below national average)
Sharp drops in consumer demand for big-ticket items such as automobiles, large appliances, and furniture will depress the need for laborers and freight, stock, and material movers. With high unemployment and economic uncertainty, a lack of appetite for these goods could extend well into the future, spelling long-term trouble for the labor outlook.
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#5. Office clerks, general
- Employment: 2,956,060
- Annual mean wage: $36,360 (32% below national average)
With responsibilities like answering telephones and filing records, general office clerk jobs could shrink considerably as remote work becomes a fixture for American workers. A quarter to a third of the U.S. workforce is projected to be working from home several days a week by the end of next year.
#4. Registered nurses
- Employment: 2,982,280
- Annual mean wage: $77,460 (44.8% above national average)
Before the coronavirus outbreak, several areas in the United States had serious nursing shortages, and as the infections rose, nurses have been in demand to travel to hot zones, with pay incentives. But in the coming months, the health care industry faces a huge revenue shortfall, and at least 200 U.S. hospitals are expected to cut nurses’ hours and implement furloughs. One cause of the revenue shortfall is an increase in the number of workers who have lost jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance.
- Employment: 3,596,630
- Annual mean wage: $24,370 (54.4% below national average)
Cashier jobs have become risky, as they require so much interaction with the public. But they are expected to be in demand, as grocery chains, pharmacies, and convenience stores are hiring tens of thousands of workers.
#2. Fast-food and counter workers
- Employment: 3,996,820
- Annual mean wage: $23,250 (56.5% below national average)
Plentiful jobs for fast-food and counter workers are unlikely as the outbreak eases. Nearly half of consumers say they have been eating less fast-food during the outbreak, research has shown, and nearly the same number say they plan to support local business more in the future. A third said they planned to make more home-cooked meals.
#1. Retail salespersons
- Employment: 4,317,950
- Annual mean wage: $29,360 (45.1% below national average)
Within retail, the clothing industry is expected to experience particular stress, especially since consumers are going out less and facing a shaky job market with massive unemployment. But there are some expectations of a retail resurgence, at least among those with discretionary income, as customers start to emerge from lockdowns.
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