Here are the jobs Americans want — and don’t want — as the pandemic lingers

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Here are the jobs Americans want — and don't want — as the pandemic lingers

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American workers are snubbing low-wage jobs that can’t be done remotely, new job search data shows. 

These sectors include childcare, food preparation and service, personal care and home health, and loading and stocking — with job searches plunging since prior to the pandemic, Indeed Hiring Lab said on Thursday. In the last 12 weeks, job searches for these fields have declined by between 4% and 8%, Indeed said.

At the same time, job searches for jobs that pay higher wages and that can be done remotely have surged, Indeed found. These include fields such as information technology operations and help desk roles, as well as civil engineering. The findings suggest that many employers may continue struggling to attract new hires amid a constellation of challenges, such as a smaller U.S. labor force, ongoing concerns about COVID-19 and competition from better-paying industries. 

“Job seekers have the upper hand, and employers are trying to hire when job seekers have the opportunity to shop around a little bit,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. 

To be sure, it’s unlikely that restaurant workers are suddenly searching for civil engineering jobs, which require years of education and training. Konkel said her future research will examine where these low-wage workers are going. 

Other research has found that some workers in low-paying fields have changed careers, especially those workers who were furloughed early in the pandemic. About 1 in 7 restaurant workers have changed industries in the last year, primarily drawn to other sectors by a desire for higher pay and more stable work hours, Black Box/Snagajob found in an August report.

“Raising the wage”

Declining interest among job seekers in child care, restaurant and other low-wage roles signals that employers in those sectors are likely to continue facing a shortage of workers. Higher interest from job seekers is strongly correlated with better hourly wages — even more than an industry’s share of jobs with remote work, Indeed found.

Some experts are calling the current shifts in the labor market the “Great Resignation,” with research indicating that workers increasingly are leaving jobs that don’t give them what they want, whether that’s suitable pay, flexibility or career goals.

“If you are hiring in a sector where remote work isn’t possible, really circle back to the idea of raising the wage if you are having trouble hiring,” Konkel said. “That will be a key lever to get the workers you need.”

Of course, that’s not always possible for all employers, especially in industries where margins are thin, such as food service, and for small businesses. But employers can offer other enticements, Konkel noted, such as flexible schedules. 

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Women are among the group most impacted by these trends, with millions having dropped out of the labor force since the pandemic began, often due to child care issues. About 4 in 10 women say they are experiencing burnout, while one-third say their income isn’t enough to pay for their family expenses, a new LinkedIn survey found.

The question is whether these trends will continue, especially as households run through savings they’ve accumulated during the pandemic, when federal stimulus aid bolstered finances. 

“In the long term, it’s tough to say if there has been a deeper shift in essentially the American psyche about what is important” with work, Konkel said. “If there is, then these hiring challenges may persist longer than what people are talking about right now.”

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