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How various industries have recovered from COVID (one chart)

Chart R

It’s been almost three years since the WHO declared that COVID-19 was a global health emergency and, whilst life has largely returned to normal for many — with Biden declaring in September that the pandemic ‘is over’ — industries like the arts, entertainment and hospitality are still struggling to fully recover.

Closures at restaurants, theaters, cinemas, hotels, and concert venues show up dramatically in the data from the BLS, as employment in the arts and entertainment industry cratered, down ~52% from January to May 2020. That was the sharpest of any sector, followed closely by the accommodation and food services industry, which shed nearly 7 million jobs over the same few months.

Understandably, these industries have taken the longest to bounce back to near pre-pandemic levels too, but they aren't the only ones still suffering. Although much smaller in size relatively, the mining and logging industry is in the worst shape, with employment still down 7% compared to Feb 2020.

Some areas, however, were more elastic. Total employment in some white-collar industries recovered to its previous peak before the end of 2021, and the transport & warehousing industry has boomed — with employment up 12% on Feb 2020 figures. For the US economy as a whole, total nonfarm employment numbers surpassed their Feb 2020 peak this summer.

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