Which Industries Are Being Hit Hardest by the Coronavirus Crisis?

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Sept. 1, 2020

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Is the industry you work in one of the ones hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis?

Coronavirus has left millions of Americans unemployed and, even as states have started to loosen restrictions, many businesses still aren't able to operate at full steam. That's partly down to continued public safety limitations or because customers are simply afraid to return.

But while virtually everyone has been affected by the novel coronavirus one way or the other, some industries have undoubtedly been hit much harder. The Ascent conducted a study near the start of the crisis that revealed which businesses had been the most affected. And now, even months later, many of those industries still continue to face unprecedented struggles that could be with them for a long time to come.

These are the hardest-hit industries due to the novel coronavirus

According to The Ascent's research, 42% of Americans said their jobs were not affected at all when the COVID-19 public health crisis began. That means a majority of workers saw changes to their work circumstances and income.

Workers that were the most affected, however, included those in:

  • The leisure and hospitality industries: Workers in the leisure and hospitality industry unsurprisingly faced the most outsized impact in their ability to continue working. In fact, a whopping 68.89% of people who work in this field faced either a reduction in hours, a workplace closure, or a layoff.
  • The food services industry: This industry was hit nearly as hard, with 63.83% of workers experiencing closures, layoffs, or reduced hours. While some restaurants were able to remain open for takeout, the fact that on-premises dining was forbidden meant that most could operate with only a very small staff and many workers lost their jobs as a result.
  • The construction industry: 58.7% of workers in construction found themselves facing reduced hours, layoffs, or workplace closures. This also isn’t surprising, since non-essential construction was ordered to stop in many states and customers lost interest in doing projects due to either financial uncertainty or fear of letting workers in their homes.
  • The retail industry: Finally, the majority of retail workers also experienced dramatic changes, including reduced hours, the closure of their businesses, or layoffs. A full 58% of retail workers said that they were not able to continue doing their jobs as normal, facing reduced hours, closures of their stores, or layoffs.

It's not surprising that people in these four fields saw the most disruption to their industries. After all, with restaurants, stores, and tourist attractions shuttered throughout the country, most workers in these professions simply couldn't continue their normal routines.

And workers in these fields are largely unable to simply shift to working from home, as close to 40% of employees providing professional, administrative, or business services were able to do when the crisis got underway.

Sadly, even as states have begun loosening restrictions, these industries are still bearing the brunt of the consequences of the novel coronavirus shutdowns. In many parts of the country, even places that have been able to open are still operating at reduced capacity. Many Americans still remain afraid to enjoy the once-beloved leisure activities of shopping, dining out, or visiting attractions as the virus continues to circulate throughout the country. And paying for improvements during uncertain economic times often isn’t a priority.

What should you do if your job has been affected by coronavirus?

If you've lost your job or are working reduced hours due to COVID-19, there are a few key steps you should take to make sure your finances aren't damaged for the long-term.

  • Take advantage of unemployment benefits: Expanded unemployment benefits ended at the end of July. And while President Trump has signed an executive order to boost benefits in individual states, not all are participating. Many workers are receiving a small percentage of their pre-virus wages. Still, unemployment benefits can provide at least some income if you're currently without a job.
  • Reduce your budget: Cutting your spending enough to live on unemployment benefits or on a reduced income can be a challenge, but it's worth taking a close look at your budget to trim expenditures wherever you can.
  • Look into other benefits available: There are many different forms of state and federal aid you may be able to take advantage of, especially if you have no income because you've been let go from work.
  • Borrow responsibly: If you don't have the money to cover the basics, you'll want to find the most affordable and safe way to borrow. For many people, this could involve using a credit card with a 0% introductory APR so you can purchase the necessities, pay no interest for several months, and hopefully repay what you've borrowed once you get back on your feet. Other options include tapping your retirement savings or considering a low-interest mortgage refinance loan that allows you to take cash out of your home.

Hopefully, even hard-hit industries will one day be able to resume normal operations as scientists test vaccines and medical professionals develop new treatments. For now, however, simply doing the best you can to get through this crisis may be your only option -- especially if you work in an industry that's been badly hit by the anti-COVID-19 measures.

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