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Job mixes and job losses

Recent job posting data from Indeed has revealed a bit of a paradox. The metro areas where more people are able to work from home — i.e. tech hubs and finance centers — have experienced larger job posting declines compared to all other US metros, as well as to tourism destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando.

We know that the hospitality and tourism sector has been the hardest hit by the current environment. But that doesn’t appear to be the biggest driver for overall job losses. In fact, one of the key takeaways is that job losses between February and June 2020 look to be correlated with metro size. That is, the bigger the city, the greater the job losses (% change).

So what’s going on?

Well, according to Indeed, it’s important to look at the local job mix. In “work-from-home metros” like Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston, there has been a relatively high percentage of people who were able to quickly transition to working from home. This is reflected in the anonymized mobile-device data for these cities. More people at home. Less mobility. And a seemingly stronger adherence to social-distancing protocols.

The problem with this outcome is that it crushes most of the in-person sectors and businesses that relied on this workforce moving about the city — things like food prep and beauty & wellness. I mean, just think about all of the food businesses that survive off lunches in a CBD. According to Indeed, it is these sorts of local economic connections that have really been driving the declines in job postings and overall payroll employment during lockdown.

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