Economists: Millions of US jobs probably aren’t coming back

Millions of jobs that have been shortchanged or wiped out entirely by the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to come back, economists warn, setting up a massive need for career changes and retraining in the U.S. 

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered permanent shifts in how and where people work. Businesses are planning for a future where more people are working from home, traveling less for business, or replacing workers with robots. All of these modifications mean many workers will not be able to do the same job they did before the pandemic, even after much of the U.S. population gets vaccinated against the deadly virus, The Washington Post reports.  

Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates raised eyebrows in November when he predicted that half of business travel and 30 percent of “days in the office” would go away forever. That forecast no longer seems far-fetched. In a report coming out later this week that was previewed to The Washington Post, the McKinsey Global Institute says that 20% of business travel won’t come back and about 20% of workers could end up working from home indefinitely. These shifts mean fewer jobs at hotels, restaurants and downtown shops, in addition to ongoing automation of office support roles and some factory jobs. 

“We’re recovering, but to a different economy,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said in November.

The nation’s unemployed are starting to react to these big shifts. Two-thirds of jobless people say they have seriously considered changing their occupation or field of work, according to the Pew Research Center. That is a significant increase from the Great Recession era, when 52% said they were considering such a change. Read the full story.