Every week, we will be publishing labor market industry (LMI) data and important trends to consider in the development of an equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. We are always looking for opportunities to learn, grow, and collaborate. Email email@example.com to learn more.
Over the last few months, we have looked weekly job postings sorted by industry. This week, we are going to take a slightly different approach and look at the changes in job postings by occupation.
The distinction between Industries and Occupations can be confusing. Fundamentally, an industry is the line of work a business is engaged in. A hospital is in the Health Care & Social Assistance industry, and Wal-Mart is in the Retail Trade industry. An occupation is the type of work an individual worker engages in. A doctor at a hospital works is in a both a healthcare occupation and industry, but a doctor who works for a sports team would be classified as working in a healthcare occupation in the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation industry. An industry can employ people in any occupation, and a worker’s occupation can be placed inside any industry. Looking at industry trends can give us an idea of changes in the economy, while occupational trends can bring to light the types of work people do.
We have seen how the Retail Trade industry has driven much of the job posting growth over the last few months, as online retail has rapidly expanded. When we look at occupations, we see a slightly different picture.
We examined the top six occupations in the City of Philadelphia by volume, and compared data from the 2nd week of August in 2019 with the same week in 2020. We also included the second week of February 2020, just prior to pandemic-related shutdowns. All the top six occupations have less job postings than they did one year ago, but there are distinct differences between them. Unsurprisingly, the largest decline has been in hospitality, food and tourism occupations, are down 62% compared to 2019.
Job Postings – August 2019
Job Postings – August 2020
Hospitality, Food & Tourism
This distinction is particularly important as workforce development and training organizations think about what types of work might be available, and within what organizations. Having experience in an industry is valuable, but not necessarily transferrable. For example, a line cook in a cafeteria and a lung surgeon both work in the Health Care industry, but their skill sets are quite different (other than both having profiency using sharp knives). At the same time, someone who previously worked as a server at a restaurant possesses many of the same skills someone working in a call center needs, namely customer service, a positive, outgoing attitude, and responsiveness. At the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, we take this approach when we recruit for our programs. When we worked with SEPTA last year, we did not look for applicants with the longest driving history. Instead, we looked for folks who had stories about times they provided great customer service and were patient. We looked for people who took responsibility and pride in their work.
Employers that use this targeted, skills-based approach will have the opportunity to engage new career seekers with experience that might differ from those they would have hired pre-pandemic. At the same time, this approach makes space for new, fresh talent to find meaningful work in industries from which they may have previously been excluded.
Aug 2nd – Aug 8th
Percentage Change from Feb 15th
Week over Week
Health Care & Social Asst.
Professional, Scientific, and Technical
Finance & Insurance
Accommodation & Food Service
Admin, Support, Waste Management & Remediation
Transportation & Warehousing
Real Estate & Rentals
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation
Mining, Quarrying and Oil & Gas
Management of Companies & Enterprises
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
About the data: Data is sourced from Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights, unless otherwise noted, covering job postings in the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Metro Statistical Area (MSA), which is comprised of roughly a circle surrounding Trenton, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Camden, and Wilmington. This data is then compared to a benchmark week of February 9th – 15th, which was the last week before the economic impact of COVID-19 began to be reflected in job posting data.