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, we are now eight months into this crisis and the U.S. labor market is still 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 9.1 million lost service sector jobs. With new COVID-19 cases currently surging across the nation, it seems unlikely that a significant portion of those jobs will be recovered by the end of the year. And with more than 12 million Americans currently relying on unemployment aid through emergency programs due to expire at the end of December, the worst may be yet to come for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.