The U.S. economy’s hiring engine — which began sputtering in March — seized up to an extraordinary degree in April, as shelter-in-place restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic took their toll in a vast range of industries.
The overall LinkedIn Hiring Rate skidded 23.9% month-over-month from March’s already depressed level, marking the worst showing ever in the monthly index’s six-year history. Sectors such as manufacturing, consumer goods and energy and mining slumped more than 30%. Real estate and construction sank more than 40%. Hardest hit of all was recreation and travel with a drop of more than 50%.
Companies as diverse as DuPont, Sonic Automotive and American Express have announced hiring freezes in recent weeks. Many more have abruptly shrunk their payrolls with mass layoffs or furloughs. As Hilton Grand Vacations CEO Mark Wang put it in an April 30 conference call with investors: “The impact of coronavirus has been sudden and significant.”
Yet for a small cluster of industries, “We’re Hiring” signs are still in place. The LinkedIn Hiring Rate in April actually rose 2.3% for the hardware and networking industry, which includes semiconductor makers, internet service providers, wireless companies and producers of computer and networking equipment. Meanwhile, the Hiring Rate for public safety (-5%), education (-6.7%) and agriculture (-14.6%) posted markedly milder declines than what the rest of the U.S. economy reported.