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Applied Economics Letters

Labour Demand in the Time of Post-COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the labour market in ways that have proved difficult for economists to predict. Early studies suggested that labour demand 'collapsed'. This initial forecast proved to be overly alarmist, due to the short-run view. We find that labour demand has rebounded sharply, though an aberration has appeared in recent months. Using what is believed to be a near-universe of online jobs postings, we demonstrate that while total job postings are up 43% from pre-pandemic levels, only one-tenth of that increase is driven by increases in new postings. This suggests that the growth in job postings in the labour market is being driven by jobs that are remaining unfilled. Labour force participation has dropped to levels not seen since the 1970s, while unemployment claims have mirrored other recent economic downturns. Combined, these two measures account for almost all the remaining jobs shed during the recent economic downturn. Analysing the characteristics of these job postings, we find a decrease in required skills and salary compared to pre-pandemic periods. Individuals appear unwilling to re-enter the labour market, likely because of the quality of jobs currently available, leading to an overall labour shortage.

Patten Krumel Jr., T., C. Goodrich and N. Fiala (2023), Labour Demand in the Time of Post-COVID-19. Applied Economics Letters , 30, 3, 343-348

DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2021.1985067