The job numbers were softer than expected, in part because the gains went entirely to men:
But another way to look at this is there is a great reassessment going on in the U.S. economy. It’s happening on a lot of different levels. At the most basic level, people are still hesitant to return to work until they are fully vaccinated and their children are back in school and day care full time. For example, all the job gains in April went to men. The number of women employed or looking for work fell by 64,000, a reminder that child-care issues are still in play.
There is also growing evidence — both anecdotal and in surveys — that a lot of people want to do something different with their lives than they did before the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic psychological effect on workers, and people are reassessing what they want to do and how they want to work, whether in an office, at home or some hybrid combination.
A Pew Research Center survey this year found that 66 percent of the unemployed had “seriously considered” changing their field of work, a far greater percentage than during the Great Recession. People who used to work in restaurants or travel are finding higher-paying jobs in warehouses or real estate, for example. Or they want a job that is more stable and less likely to be exposed to the coronavirus — or any other deadly virus down the road. Consider that grocery stores shed over 49,000 workers in April and nursing care facilities lost nearly 20,000.
On one level, this represents a dismaying olyld issue:
All of the jobs gains in April went to men. @byHeatherLong is right that this is probably about childcare — but it’s just fascinating that men apparently don’t have children to care for. https://t.co/ZKasK1goqK— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) May 9, 2021
And evidently we don’t want to read too much into one month of job data in a transitional period. But I think the COVID-19 Experience is going to have all kinds of cultural and economic ramifications that I at least don’t have any real idea how to process yet.