Many employees in the U.S. are holding their breath, waiting to see if their jobs will be the next to disappear as authorities order businesses to close and residents to stay home in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, hiring is ramping up in some sectors.
Some 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week –– the highest ever increase in weekly jobless claims. As more Americans practice social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, layoffs are occurring in sectors that rely on foot traffic, such as brick-and-mortar retail, hospitality, and restaurants and bars.
But the good news is that layoffs aren’t happening across the board. In fact, a wave of unprecedented demand in certain sectors is sending some employers on hiring sprees.
Walmart Inc. WMT, -0.22% said last week it plans to hire 150,000 new workers. The retailer also said it would give full-time employees who are paid hourly a bonus of $300 each, and part-time hourly employees a bonus of $150 on April 2, MarketWatch reported. The Walmart jobs will be temporary at first, but many will convert to permanent roles over time, the company said.
The openings are across the U.S. in fulfillment centers, transportation operations, Amazon Go Stores, Whole Foods stores, and in deliveries. “While most of the hires will stay with the company through at least April, we do anticipate there will be opportunities to stay with Amazon in a longer temporary or permanent role,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.
Beyond Amazon and Walmart, here are the sectors that are ramping up hiring:
Food and convenience stores
As Americans flock to grocery stores to maintain their “pandemic pantries,” shelves are being stripped clean. In order to restock them in a timely manner grocery chains including Albertsons Cos., Kroger KR, +0.45% and Trader Joe’s have either increased hiring or offered bonuses to employees.
Lowe’s LOW, -1.28% stores have also remained open across the country to ensure costumers have access to essential appliances like refrigerators and freezers in addition to cleaning products. The company announced on Wednesday they are looking to fill 30,000 permanent and temporary job openings at distribution centers and in-stores.
7-Eleven, an international convenience chain with more than 70,000 stores, said last week it will be hiring as many as 20,000 store employees.
“This will provide job opportunities and ensure 7-Eleven stores remain clean and in-stock with the goods our customers need during this critical time,” said 7-Eleven president and CEO, Joe DePinto. The company anticipates that the majority of the new hires will be used to fulfill orders on 7NOW, an on-demand delivery app.
Albertsons Cos., a national grocery chain which owns Safeway and Acme, “is immediately hiring 30,000 new associates,” the company announced Monday.
Kroger is hiring 20,000 new associates nationwide across retail stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers, the company said on Friday. Last week Kroger announced plans to hire 10,000 new workers, but ended up hiring a total of 23,500 workers, Kristal Howard, a Kroger spokeswoman said on Friday. Kroger’s average hourly wage is $15 an hour, she said.
Trader Joe’s is paying bonuses to store employees amid an “unprecedented increase” in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, Business Insider reported. The company did not respond to request for comment on whether they are also increasing hiring and how much they are paying employees in bonuses.
Because more consumers are shopping online and having food delivered to them there is a need for more drivers and remote workers to coordinate delivery logistics, Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said.
That sector has grown the fastest over the past week, Zhao said, according to Glassdoor hiring data. Most of the job openings are for truck and delivery drivers as well as warehouse workers, he said.
While these types of jobs may be less appealing to people who are trying to limit face-to-face contact with others, there are also a variety of supply chain analysis jobs and delivery dispatch jobs that can be done remotely.
“Obviously there is high demand in health care,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, a New York-based fixed income securities brokerage firm, said. “But that isn’t something anyone off the street can do.” Stanley predicts restaurant workers will take on delivery roles.
CVS Health CVS, +0.50% plans to add 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary workers, the company said on Monday. It has decided to tap directly into its customers’ workforces by taking on furloughed workers from hotel chains. The company recently waived home delivery fees for prescriptions and said it is looking to hire more drivers.
Popular pizza chains in the U.S. are also experiencing a spike in demand as many restaurants and quick-service chains have shifted to takeout, delivery, drive-thru and pick-up only.
Pizza Hut is looking to fill 30,000 permanent job openings, Yum Brands Inc. YUM, -9.53%, its parent company, announced on Monday. As families eat more meals together, Pizza Hut says it has seen an increase in demand for its Big Dipper pizza, which offers two feet of pizza and 24 slices.
Papa John’s International Inc. PZZA, -3.33% also announced it’s aiming to hire 20,000 workers with an immediate start date. Domino’s Pizza Inc. DPZ, +0.07% says that it’s looking for full-time and part-time workers in a variety of roles, particularly drivers and pizza makers.
Hungry Howie’s, a Detroit-based pizza chain with 550 locations in 21 states, has 2,000 permanent delivery driver openings. Drivers can make up to $15 an hour, a company spokeswoman told MarketWatch.
Internet and telecommunications
While millions of Americans cannot work from home, many are doing so especially in cities like San Francisco, where there is currently a shelter-in-place order.
Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic, a Northern California-based internet and telecommunications provider serving more than 100,000 customers, said his company has experienced a record surge in new customers. To meet the increased demand, he will likely be hiring an additional 15 employees a month to join his team of 520 employees, he said.
“With so many folks engaging in social distancing and distance learning, unlike many industries we are busier than ever before,” Jasper said. Employees of Sonic, like other telecommunication companies, are allowed to travel freely through regions that have shelter-in-place orders because their services are deemed essential, especial for emergency communication purposes, Jasper said.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association, which represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide, is lobbying for the same status for vets.
“As part of our continuing responsibility to care for our animal patients and their owners, we call on governments to recognize all veterinary hospitals and clinics as essential businesses in any situation in which non-essential businesses are asked to close for COVID-19 risk mitigation,” WSAVA president Shane Ryan said.
Increased demand in the U.S. for respiratory equipment such as ventilators could cause a surge in hiring in manufacturing.
“At some point certain manufacturers will want to increase hiring so that they can make more ventilators,” said Stanley of Amherst Pierpont. “It’s almost like a wartime operation,” he added. In addition to hospital beds and health professionals, there may be a ventilator shortage. The breathing machines are critical to saving the lives of patients with severe coronaviruses cases.
President Donald Trump announced Friday that he was invoking the Defense Production Act, to require General Motors GM, -5.23% to make ventilators for hospitals to help patients with COVID-19. The order requires GM to “accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators.”
This story was updated on March 27, 2020.