Giving Compass' Take:

• Marcus Casey, writing for Brookings, explores what job recovery may look like beyond COVID-19, musing that job composition, training and skill-building may not return to normal.

• Re-training will most likely become an essential part of economic stimulation in a post-COVID-19 society. How can donors help with funding sustainable practices in workforce development programs after the pandemic? What other economic needs might emerge? 

•  Read about the current and future impacts of COVID-19 on service workers

Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to be fast nor easy. It is increasingly clear, however, that the negative economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic fall disproportionately on middle- and working-class families. In addition to bearing the brunt of infections and deaths, these families have borne many layoffs and permanent job losses, closures of their small businesses, income losses, and evictions as a result of the pandemic. Initial forecasts of a “v-shaped” recovery were, in retrospect, unduly optimistic.

Agreeing that the short-run shock of the pandemic has turned into a full-blown recession, economists and other analysts have turned their attention to a big question: will jobs actually come back? This is no idle concern. Already we see businesses adapting to the new normal by instituting processes that minimize human contact both between consumers and workers, but also within the businesses themselves. In addition to more employees working remotely, the pandemic has pushed fast adoption and increased innovation in areas such as contactless customer service and delivery, robotic warehouse management and order fulfillment, and automated food service. While the pre-COVID trends in technological adoption were already pointing in this direction, the severity and persistence of the pandemic will likely accelerate the adoption of such technologies. Furthermore, advances in artificial intelligence paired with automating technologies will expand the set of potential tasks that can done by technology, likely resulting in more replacement of human labor. From a business efficiency perspective, this makes sense: humans get sick, machines don’t.

What this suggests is that although the economy will eventually recover, the structure and job composition of that economy may be quite different. This possibility has important implications for workers who previously worked jobs or industries that have been fatally damaged by the pandemic. While some of these workers will  almost certainly be able to transfer their skills and experience into other occupations, the other structural changes in how our society conducts our lives as a result of the pandemic may mean that a return to normal may be impossible for some workers.

Read the full article about job recovery by Marcus Casey at Brookings.