Many employees in the U.S. are holding their breath, waiting to see if their jobs will be the next to disappear as authorities order businesses to close and residents to stay home in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But the good news is that layoffs aren’t occurring across the board. In fact a wave of unprecedented demand in certain sectors is sending some employers on hiring sprees.
Some 70,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits this week –– one of the biggest one-week increases ever. As more Americans practice social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, layoffs are occurring in sectors that rely on foot traffic, such as retail, hospitality, and restaurants and bars.
The openings are across the U.S. in fulfillment centers, transportation operations, Amazon Go Stores, Whole Foods stores, and in deliveries. “While most of the hires will stay with the company through at least April, we do anticipate there will be opportunities to stay with Amazon in a longer temporary or permanent role,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.
Beyond Amazon, here are the sectors that are ramping up hiring:
Food and convenience stores
As Americans flock to grocery stores to maintain their “pandemic pantries,” shelves are being stripped clean. In order to restock them in a timely manner grocery chains including Kroger KR, -5.06% Safeway and Trader Joe’s have either increased hiring or offered bonuses to employees.
7-Eleven, an international convenience chain with more than 70,000 stores, announced Friday it will be hiring as many as 20,000 store employees.
“This will provide job opportunities and ensure 7-Eleven stores remain clean and in-stock with the goods our customers need during this critical time,” said 7-Eleven president and CEO, Joe DePinto. The company anticipates that the majority of the new hires will be used to fulfill orders on 7NOW, an on-demand delivery app.
Kroger is hiring 10,000 new associates nationwide across retail stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers, Kristal Howard, a Kroger spokeswoman said. “Candidates may apply via jobs.kroger.com and could be placed for employment within several days of applying,” she said adding that “Kroger’s average hourly wage is $15 an hour.”
Safeway, a national grocery chain, is looking to fill 2,000 new jobs located mainly in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. (The company didn’t respond to request for comment).
Trader Joe’s is paying bonuses to store employees amid an “unprecedented increase” in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, Business Insider reported. The company did not respond to request for comment on whether they are also increasing hiring and how much they are paying employees in bonuses.
Because more consumers are shopping online and having food delivered to them there is a need for more drivers and remote workers to coordinate delivery logistics, Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said.
That sector has grown the fastest over the past week, Zhao said, according to Glassdoor hiring data. Most of the job openings are for truck and delivery drivers as well as warehouse workers, he said.
While these types of jobs may be less appealing to people who are trying to limit face-to-face contact with others, there are also a variety of supply chain analysis jobs and delivery dispatch jobs that can be done remotely.
“Obviously there is high demand in health care,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, a New York-based fixed income securities brokerage firm, said. “But that isn’t something anyone off the street can do.” Stanley predicts restaurant workers will take on delivery roles.
Domino’s Pizza Inc. DPZ, +1.50%, said Thursday that it’s looking for full-time and part-time workers in a variety of roles, particularly drivers and pizza makers. This comes as many restaurants and quick-service chains have shifted to takeout, delivery, drive-thru and pick-up only.
Internet and telecommunications
While millions of Americans cannot work from home, many are doing so especially in cities like San Francisco, where there is currently a shelter-in-place order.
Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic, a Northern California-based internet and telecommunications provider serving more than 100,000 customers, said his company has experienced a record surge in new customers. To meet the increased demand, he will likely be hiring an additional 15 employees a month to join his team of 520 employees, he said.
“With so many folks engaging in social distancing and distance learning, unlike many industries we are busier than ever before,” Jasper said. Employees of Sonic, like other telecommunication companies, are allowed to travel freely through regions that have shelter-in-place orders because their services are deemed essential, especial for emergency communication purposes, Jasper said.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association, which represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide, is lobbying for the same status for vets.
“As part of our continuing responsibility to care for our animal patients and their owners, we call on governments to recognize all veterinary hospitals and clinics as essential businesses in any situation in which non-essential businesses are asked to close for COVID-19 risk mitigation,” WSAVA president Shane Ryan said.
Increased demand in the U.S. for respiratory equipment such as ventilators could cause a surge in hiring in manufacturing.
“At some point certain manufacturers will want to increase hiring so that they can make more ventilators,” said Stanley of Amherst Pierpont. “It’s almost like a wartime operation,” he added. In addition to hospital beds and health professionals, there may be a ventilator shortage. The breathing machines are critical to saving the lives of patients with severe coronaviruses cases.
General Motors Co. GM, +5.25% and Ford Motor Co. F, -1.23% both said they are “exploring” making ventilators amid fears the life-saving devices might become scarce in the U.S. in the COVID-19 pandemic, MarketWatch reported.