The job market in America has exploded from the unemployment rate at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which approached Great Depression figures. In April of last year, the official jobless rate reached 14.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. The number dropped to 5.4% last month, as the economy added 953,000 jobs. U.S. job openings set a record in June at 10.1 million.
However, not all industries were damaged equally by the pandemic, and not all have come back at the same rates. For example, low-paid jobs in the hospitality industry remain open at levels that have made it hard for those companies to operate effectively. So, while many employers are struggling to recruit and retain workers, some even offering signing bonuses and increased hourly wages, many others are still laying off, firing or furloughing employees, temporarily or permanently, albeit at lower rates than they did a year ago.
What industry is laying off the most workers now? To find out, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the rate and total number of layoffs and discharges across 19 key industry categories. Figures are for May 2021, the most recent month for which data is available, and compared with numbers from May 2020.
The construction industry, damaged by the lack of new commercial buildings, tops the list. It might be worse if housing starts were not as strong as they are. Here are some details:
- Layoff and discharges rate in May 2021: 1.80% (total: 138,000)
- Total employment in May 2021: 7,417,000
- Layoff and discharges rate in May 2020: 2.50%
- Total employment in May 2020: 7,004,000