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Staffing outlook: Three industries poised for growth

Staffing outlook: Three industries poised for growth

As the country continues to wade through the coronavirus health crisis, employment (or lack thereof) is top of mind. Unemployment rates are still at historic levels, but there’s optimism in the staffing industry about jobs in some fields that may recover from pandemic drops suffered in the spring. Among the segments with forecasted recovery growth: healthcare, information technology and industrial, according to Staffing Industry Analysts’ July Staffing Report.

This is due to a variety of factors, from demand created by COVID-19 to the effects of ending increased unemployment payments. Here’s what to expect from these three specific fields:

Healthcare

Maybe not surprisingly, healthcare jobs didn’t decline as much as other industries, and the field is predicted to see positive job growth. The economy added 125,500 healthcare jobs from June to July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People are starting to seek elective health procedures again, and demand is high in the areas of pharmacy, telehealth and contact tracing.

“We’re hearing from employers that they’re preferring folks with healthcare backgrounds [for contact tracing],” says Misty Frost, CEO of Carrus, a healthcare training and education company. “Familiarity with healthcare is advantageous when you’re trying to assess impact.”

Back office jobs like coding, billing and transcription are seeing a slower recovery, but as more patients return to the system, those positions will likely increase as well. Travel nursing and per diem nursing have also seen increased need.

“We’re going to see growth in pretty much all of healthcare, but where we’re going to see that most rapid growth is in the new skills,” Frost says. “We’re seeing it in anything to do with pharmacy, and we’re really seeing a huge uptick in telehealth, which I think will be a thing for many years to come.”

Postings for healthcare jobs in general saw a steady increase throughout July on Monster, with upticks in registered nurses, nurse practitioners, nursing assistants and medical assistants early in the month. RNs and nurse practitioner jobs saw an upward trend throughout the month. Keyword searches for “Nurse practitioner,” “RN” and “Registered nurse” have all increased and are higher than pre-pandemic volume. Among new resumes posted to Monster, the Medical/Health categories were among the highest.

“The travel nurse segment is a rare part of the US staffing industry that may actually see revenue growth in 2020,” says Timothy Landhuis, director of research for North America for Staffing Industry Analysts. “This is due to travel nurse assignments assisting with COVID-19 needs, although this may be winding down.”

Information technology

The tech field didn’t suffer as much as many fields in the spring, since technology was critical to many companies’ abilities to go remote when localities shut down. “When everyone has to go virtual, suddenly everyone needs laptops and Internet, so they became essential infrastructure,” says Thomas Lah, executive director and executive vice president of the Technology & Services Industry Association.

“The other thing that happened, which is more subtle, is that a lot of tech revenues are now sold as a service, and companies typically don’t turn off their services right away. Tech has not yet felt the body blow, financially, of the pandemic.”

While that may change if the global economy takes a turn, for now, information technology remains essential to the functioning of a work-from-home model. Employers added more than 200,000 information technology workers in June.

“What we’re seeing and hearing from our members is that this increase is going to be in roles that are supporting all of this remote work and virtual interaction,” says Jackie Black, director of strategic alliances, US jobs at the Consumer Technology Association. “That’s going to come in cybersecurity jobs, IT help desk technicians, network engineers and software developers.”

On Monster, keyword searches for “Devops Engineer” and “Systems Engineer” were up at the end of the July, as well as searches for “Cybersecurity” and “Cybercoders.” Other keywords with increased searches include: “Full Stack Java Developer,” “Sr Java Developer,” “Data Science,” “Devops,” “Java Software Engineer,” and “solutions engineer.”

IT and Software Development resumes are also—by far—the largest category of new resumes posted to Monster, and “Software Developers, Applications” top the list of new job ads by occupation category. (Also on the list: Engineers, Computer User Support Specialists, and Network and Computer Systems Administrators.)

Revenue at many staffing firms placing for IT occupations is down just single digits or double digits year over year, Landhuis says, compared with staffing for other skill segments. “Some reasons for this include the fact that IT temporary workers are able to work at home/remotely to continue projects, and the fact that many clients have opted to continue IT projects even during the pandemic disruption as the projects are viewed as essential for their long-term strategy.”

Industrial

About half of temporary workers are in blue collar industrial occupations, and there’s been a drop in demand in areas like auto manufacturing. Increased unemployment benefits also made it challenging to fill some positions through the spring.

But the end of higher unemployment checks will likely lead to a boost in these jobs being filled in the next few months, and demand is starting to return after a big dip. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in July, for instance, and there’s demand for new positions related to cleaning and temperature checking. As Americans continue to work from home, online shopping continues to drive calls for warehouse workers, delivery drivers, and other jobs related to fulfillment.

“Things are likely to improve in light industrial staffing merely because activity declined so severely in March/April, and economic activity has been slowly recovering since as states have reopened,” Landhuis says. “For example, continued modest expansion in manufacturing was suggested by the most recent ISM PMI reading.”

He does point out that revenue at most light industrial staffing firms remains down double digits year over year, but firms remain optimistic.

According to Monster data, stock clerks were among the top 10 jobs posted on the site throughout July, and light truck/delivery ended July in the top 10 jobs. Packers and hand packagers are also at their highest new job posting volumes in July compared to other months since the pandemic began. Searches for “warehouse” on Monster continue to remain high, and searches for “CDL Driver” and “Dispatcher” are at higher volumes now than pre-pandemic, as well as “Maintenance Technician.”

From the candidate side, new resumes in manufacturing, production and operations have increased week over week, and logistics/transportation was among the categories with highest new resumes posted at the end of July.

Despite staffing optimism, the future is uncertain. The winter could bring a second wave of coronavirus or there could be geographic hot spots. Things could certainly vary on a local level. But current data—from national sources and from Monster employers and job seekers—suggests that jobs in healthcare, IT and light industrial fields will recover well over the next several months.

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