Labor Market Report for February 9th, 2021

A graphic depicting the logo for the WPSI Labor Market Report
Feb 09, 2021 15 months ago

Every other 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 protected] to learn more.

The COVID-19 economy has changed both how and where we work, and not just for those of us working from home. In the years leading up to March 2020, unemployment was low and job growth was steady across the Philadelphia region. While the type of jobs available within the City of Philadelphia differed from the type of jobs available in the surrounding suburbs, overall job gains moved more or less in tandem. That is no longer the case.

Philadelphia’s great periods of growth in the 19th and 20th century resulted from a broad range of businesses making goods, with workers flocking to construct ships, weave clothes, and build locomotives. After deindustrialization took hold in the mid 20th century, Philadelphia began to rely heavily on its service sector for growth, thanks to the growth in tourism, “eds and meds,” hotels, restaurants, and shops. Unfortunately, these sectors have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 shutdowns. 

For example, in 2019 there were 423 job postings for “Baggage Porters, Bellhops, and Concierges” in the city. In 2020, there were only 214 – a decline of 52%. This contrasts with the surrounding counties, where postings in the same occupation increased from 626 in 2019 to 689 in 2020, a gain of 10%. Other service sector jobs saw similar divergences, with postings for several food service occupations falling between 20% and 40 % in the city and increasing by 5%-20% in the surrounding region.  Both the suburbs and the city saw big jumps in the number of warehouse and logistics jobs, but again the increases were larger outside the city. Across the board, firms located in the suburbs and exurbs posted around 33% fewer jobs per week since the start of COVID-19, while those firms located in the City of Philadelphia are down by 40%.  

What does this mean for Philadelphia, and its jobs market going forward? Any true recovery will depend on the speed at which vaccines can be administered. The sooner most people are vaccinated, the sooner the service industry can begin to think about re-opening. It’s possible that pent up demand from a year or more of being stuck at home will lead to a surge in demand at hotels, resturaunts, bars, music venues, and tourist sites. It’s also possible that it will take years for the sector to return to pre-covid levels of activity. Operating a small business is challenging in any economy, and many locations will have closed permanently by the time cities can fully re-open. 

As the city works to emerge from the current crisis, it will be important that we continue to work to diversify the types of work available. As we have seen throughout our history, concentrated employment in a few sectors can lead to rapid growth – but also steeper declines when faced with global shocks.  

 

 

Weekly Postings, Jan. 24th – Jan 30th     

Percentage Change from Feb 15th 

Week over Week 

Industry 

Phila Metro 

Phila City 

Phila Metro 

Phila City 

Phila Metro 

Phila City 

Health Care & Social Assistance 

2409 

727 

-39% 

-43% 

-22% 

-11% 

Professional, Scientific & Tech Services 

1289 

617 

-20% 

-8% 

12% 

15% 

Retail Trade 

1201 

173 

-24% 

-33% 

-2% 

-5% 

Finance & Insurance  

1208 

384 

-16% 

-27% 

2% 

13% 

Accommodation & Food Service 

602 

161 

-46% 

-72% 

-32% 

-30% 

Manufacturing 

1026 

198 

-23% 

-16% 

-5% 

0% 

Administrative & Support & Waste Mgmt  

632 

141 

-30% 

-38% 

5% 

25% 

Educational Services 

521 

197 

-54% 

-61% 

-29% 

-34% 

Transportation & Warehousing 

376 

104 

-49% 

-41% 

-23% 

-10% 

Information 

281 

139 

-50% 

-57% 

-15% 

-8% 

Other Services  

194 

52 

-59% 

-32% 

-42% 

-22% 

Public Administration 

288 

69 

5% 

-45% 

2% 

-18% 

Real Estate & Rental Leasing 

232 

80 

-31% 

-36% 

-17% 

-32% 

Construction 

205 

44 

-8% 

-47% 

-10% 

-28% 

Arts, Entertainment & Recreation  

84 

41 

-43% 

-33% 

-16% 

-18% 

Wholesale Trade 

85 

10% 

-60% 

2% 

-67% 

Utilities 

33 

-33% 

-25% 

-38% 

20% 

Mining, Quarrying and Oil & Gas  

31 

11 

-21% 

0% 

35% 

120% 

Mgmt of Companies & Enterprises 

11 

-75% 

-64% 

-42% 

-43% 

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 

20 

0% 

0% 

-49% 

-44% 

Unspecified  

3236 

1019 

-33% 

-42% 

-5% 

3% 

Total 

13964 

4176 

-33% 

-40% 

-11% 

-5% 

 

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.