US job recovery has been uneven across industries

Jason Furman (PIIE) and Wilson Powell III (Harvard Kennedy School)


The US economy added 261,000 jobs in October 2022, more than analysts expected but a slowdown from its breakneck pace of growth in 2021. The strength of the recovery, however, is mixed. Several industries are still trailing their pre-pandemic employment levels.

More than 1.3 million jobs in the information, financial, and professional and business services sector have been added since February 2020, the largest growth of any sector. But this category was also growing rapidly before the pandemic. Despite this trend, employment in the sector still trails its pre-pandemic trend. Only the transportation and warehousing and retail trade sectors have maintained employment growth above their pre-pandemic trajectories.

Meanwhile, the food services and drinking places and accommodation sectors now have significantly fewer employees than before the pandemic. The accommodation sector workforce shrank by 363,000 jobs, or by 17 percent, while food services and drinking places lost 565,000 jobs.

The pre-pandemic trend does not necessarily represent what industry employment would have been absent the pandemic, as overall job growth was expected to slow, but it provides some insight into the relative strength of each sector as they emerge from the pandemic.

This PIIE Chart is based on Jason Furman and Wilson Powell III's blog post, US job growth is slowing, but the labor market remains very hot. Produced and designed by Nia Kitchin and Oliver Ward.

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