In November, Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates predicted that half of business travel workers and 30% of “days in the office” would go away forever.
The Washington Post previewed a study by the McKinsey Global Institute that says 20% of business travel won’t come back and about 20% could end up working from home indefinitely.
These shifts mean fewer jobs at hotels, restaurants and downtown shops, in addition to ongoing automation of office support roles and some factory jobs.
“We’re recovering, but to a different economy,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in November.
According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of the jobless have seriously considered changing their occupation or field of work. That is a significant increase from the Great Recession era, when 52% said they were considering a change.
“We think that there is a very real scenario in which a lot of the large employment, low-wage jobs in retail and in food service just go away in the coming years,” Susan Lund, head of the McKinsey Global Institute, said. “It means that we’re going to need a lot more short-term training and credentialing programs.”
One problem for many unemployed people is they lack the money to retrain.
This crisis has put many out of work for nearly a year and the financial support from unemployment and food stamps is often not sufficient to pay their bills.
The number of workers in need of retraining could be in the millions, according to McKinsey and David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-wrote a report warning that automation is accelerating in the pandemic.
He predicts fewer jobs in retail, rest, car dealerships and meatpacking facilities.
“Once robots are in place, we won’t go back,” Autor said.
Meanwhile, the $1.9 trillion relief bill stimulus package that President Joe Biden proposed, and House Democrats have been working on, does not include any funding specifically for retraining.
It’s reported that lawmakers hope to include retraining spending in legislation later this year.
For many, the career shift is driven by necessity.
Economists say that over time, the United States probably will employ the same overall number of people that the nation had, pre-pandemic, but the specific jobs people do are likely to change.
For the people who need to shift careers, it is a major life change.