How COVID-19 Has Affected Jobs in Williamson County

This article is part of our series “COVID-19: 1 Year Later,” exploring the ways COVID-19 has affected and changed daily life over the last year. For two weeks, we surveyed our readers on how COVID-19 has affected them. Read our survey results here. Today, we are writing about how COVID-19 has affected the job market.

High-demand jobs are constantly changing based on the economy. As with everything, they are affected by market needs. The pandemic, the resultant shutdown, and the reopening economy have shifted jobs in many categories. For some, COVID-19 has been a boon, for others, it has meant utter destruction.

The good thing to know is that according to a survey held in December 2020 by Williamson Inc, more than 92% of respondents felt the economy was good or excellent. And according to a survey hosted by the Williamson Source in February and March of 2021, less than 20% of respondents had their jobs affected by the pandemic as far as job loss.

Still, there have been significant changes in the type of jobs that have become highest in demand. According to research done by the Brookings Institute, “[The] COVID-19 recession has crushed certain industries—those that depend on the movement of people—while leaving others relatively unscathed—those that depend on the movement of information.”

Devastated industries included entertainment, leisure and hospitality, while those based on technology and government had unemployment lower than the national average.

According to the website, theconversation.com, there were definite categories of winners, losers, and those in the middle. Winners included ecommerce, pharmaceuticals, logistics/delivery, video conferencing, and video streaming of entertainment. The losers were travel/ tourism, oil and gas, traditional retail, sports/entertainment, and investment banking. Those that could be called “safely” in the middle include banking, healthcare, manufacturing, and education.

Currently, the most in demand jobs all require technical skills. According to an article in Business Insider, this is a trend that was already taking place. In the article, CEOS from many different businesses discussed it, with Tobias Lütke, the CEO of Shopify, noting, “The future we imagined for 2030 has been pulled forward to the present, with everything going digital by default.” No matter the category of job, the need for technical skills is on the rise.

Locally however, according to the Chamber Outlook Survey, the most in demand jobs right now are in the trades. With the need for homes to make up for the current shortage, there is a big requirement for carpenters, dry wall installers, painters, electricians, plumbers, and many more with skills in these areas.

After those in the trades, employers are following the national trend, and need skilled workers in IT/Tech, followed by finance, management, and engineering. Good news is, that hospitality is also coming back slowly.

What the work environment will be like, is still up in the air for many employers, with a wait and see attitude toward returning to offices, travel, and on-site meetings. The general feeling, according to the Chamber Outlook Survey, is that there will continue to be lots of work from home. And about a quarter of the respondents to the Williamson Source Survey want to keep working from home.

Trends that will likely continue into the future are flexible scheduling and remote work. It may not be all work from home, with some days spent at an office and some at home, but continued remote work is likely. Some businesses have already chosen to go all remote, and are divesting themselves of their office space, while others see themselves adding office space in the future.

As things get back to some type of normal, there will still be a need for flexibility and adaptability as businesses refine the future work environment and technical requirements for the jobs of the future.

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