One chart shows that a lot of jobs have a long way to go to recover from the pandemic

A waiter in San Francisco, California.
A waiter at The Dorian serves champagne to guests who are dining outside on April 02, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

  • The April jobs report showed employment gains were mainly in the leisure and hospitality sector.
  • The motion picture and sound recording industry is still almost 40% below pre-pandemic employment.
  • Couriers and messengers lost 77,400 jobs in April, so it is now 14.3% above pre-pandemic employment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The motion picture and sound recording industry continues to have a hard time adding jobs and moving closer back to where employment was before the pandemic.

April’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was not what economists expected to see. The consensus estimate was for an addition of 1 million more payroll jobs in April, but last month’s gain was only 266,000. Even worse, nonfarm payroll employment gains were revised down in March from 916,000 to 770,000.

At the industry sector level, leisure and hospitality was the biggest winner with 331,000 jobs added. The second-largest gain was in government, which saw 48,000 jobs added last month.

Even with monthly gains and declines, we can look at how April employment in various industries with different typical wages compares to employment from before the pandemic. The following chart shows the percent change in employment between February 2020 and April 2021. We also included each industry’s median hourly wage as of May 2020 from the BLS’ National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates program along the horizontal axis.

The motion picture and sound recording industries, which fall into the information sector that gained 1,000 jobs in April, lost 3,100 jobs last month. The motion picture and sound recording industry has been around 40% below February 2020 employment since September. The performing arts and spectator sports industry, which has similarly been far below pre-pandemic employment throughout the pandemic, is 31.3% below pre-pandemic employment as of April 2021.

“The lack of job growth in many industries most harmed by the pandemic was disappointing,” Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, said in a email to Insider. “Hopefully the pandemic continues to recede and these industries will be able to add more jobs on a sustainable basis.”

The couriers and messengers industry had mainly seen jobs added each month during the pandemic as people ordered things for delivery while staying at home during lockdowns and while working remotely. Couriers and messengers, however, saw a decline of 77,400 jobs in April. This sector was 23.1% above February 2020 employment in March 2021 after 13,900 jobs were added that month. But that difference fell to 14.3% above the pre-pandemic level in April after the industry lost jobs for the first time since December.

“One possibility is that demand for these services are declining as more in-person services and activities reopen. Employers might be letting workers go because they are uncertain that pandemic-era trends will last much longer,” Bunker said.

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