10 Jobs the Pandemic May Kill

Receptionist talking on the phone
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The ongoing pandemic is having a powerful effect on the U.S. economy. American workers lost 14.7 million jobs — a 9.6% drop — between February and June 2020, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

What this means for the long run isn’t yet clear. The BLS regularly forecasts growth or loss in many occupations — as it did in 2020, for the decade of 2019-2029. But those projections were based on data from before the pandemic struck. Now, some industries have been hurt severely, so the BLS recently updated its jobs forecasts, comparing recent changes with its 2020 baseline jobs report.

This latest report shows that the worst job losses in the first several months of the pandemic were in three industries: hotels and motels (-38.6%), air transportation (-25.9%) and food and drink places (-25.6%). Perhaps not surprisingly, grocery store jobs grew a bit, by 3.5% during those first few months of the pandemic.

The latest BLS forecast offers two scenarios: what would happen to jobs if the pandemic has a moderate long-term impact on the economy, and what would happen if the pandemic has a strong long-term impact.

The New York Times has compared these forecasts with pre-COVID-19 job growth projections, ranking occupations by the severity of job losses in the latest forecast versus the pre-pandemic report. The ailing occupations were facing trouble before, but the pandemic made things worse, The Times says.

Still, these latest forecasts aren’t a certainty; much can change before 2029.

Read on to see the occupations most likely to face long-term pain from the pandemic. We use BLS data and The Times’ calculations to show the differences between the 2020 forecast and the newer, strong-impact forecast.

10. Bus drivers (transit and intercity)

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Projected change in employment for 2019-2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Gain of 6,100 jobs (2.7%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 5,900 jobs (-2.6%)

Difference between pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -10.9%

9. Subway and streetcar operators

San Francisco, California
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Projected change in employment for 2019-2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 200 jobs (-2.2%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 700 jobs (-6.2%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -11.5%

8. Flight attendants

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Projected change in employment for 2019-2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Gain of 11,300 jobs (9.2%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Gain of 4,500 jobs (3.7%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -11.7%

6. Cashiers (tie)

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Projected change in employment for 2019-2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 511,000 jobs (-14.2%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 714,500 jobs (-19.8%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -13.5%

6. Receptionists and information clerks (tie)

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Projected change in employment for 2019-2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 24,300 jobs (-2.2%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 114,900 jobs (-10.4%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -13.5%

5. Waiters and waitresses

Waiter
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Projected change in employment from 2019 to 2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 145,600 jobs (-5.6%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 336,900 jobs (-12.9%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -16%

4. Hotel, motel and resort desk clerks

Hotel
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Projected change in employment from 2019 to 2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 30,100 jobs (-10.9%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 60,700 jobs (-22%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -16.2%

3. Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks

Steve Skjold / Shutterstock.com

Projected change in employment from 2019 to 2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 14,200 jobs (-11.2%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 24,200 jobs (-19.1%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -16.7%

2. Bartenders

Bartender at the beach
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Projected change in employment for 2019-2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 13,800 jobs (-2.1%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 90,400 jobs (-13.8%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: -18.6%

1. Hosts and hostesses (restaurant, lounge and coffee shop)

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Projected change in employment from 2019 to 2029:

  • Moderate-impact scenario: Loss of 46,500 jobs (-10.8%)
  • Strong-impact scenario: Loss of 77,400 jobs (-18%)

Difference between the pre-pandemic jobs forecast and the strong-impact scenario: −24.2%

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