When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. economy with full force in late March, causing stock markets and economic indicators to plummet and erasing nearly 20 million jobs in a matter of weeks, many had hoped that this crisis would go away as quickly as it had arrived. And while some sectors recovered relatively quickly once restrictions had been eased and businesses were allowed to reopen in the summer, we are now 12 months into the crisis and the U.S. labor market is still almost 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level.
As the following chart shows, the vast majority of those lost jobs are service-providing jobs, with the leisure and hospitality sector alone accounting for 3.5 million of the total 8.5 million lost service sector jobs. With new cases currently easing up and the vaccine rollout picking up pace, there's reason for hope that a lot of jobs at restaurants, bars and cafés will return over the next few months. For now, however the road to recovery remains long and rocky.