The COVID-19 pandemic has left a profound imprint on the job market. While employment has steadily improved since unemployment spiked in spring 2020, the industries bouncing back or surging in the year-and-a-half since are not necessarily the same as those that were hit the hardest at the pandemic's outset.
CareerCast.com's annual rankings of the best and worst jobs in the economy evaluates a variety of factors to determine placements, but one consistent theme evident in the Worst Jobs of 2021 report is lagging employment commensurate with negative employment prospects amid the pandemic.
Construction — an industry still on a long, slow ascent from the depths it reached as a result of the Great Recession beginning in 2008 — suffered a deep dip due to COVID-19 and is nearing the end of 2021 still behind the industry's employment numbers of late 2019.
Slowed new-home starts for the past year contributes to a variety of construction-related careers falling in the 10 Worst Jobs of 2021: Construction Worker, Roofer, and Painter.
Uncertain hiring prospects, coupled with the already present physical demands and stress inherent with the job, also combine with the key factor of pay. Salary isn't everything, of course, but another common theme evident among the 10 Worst Jobs of 2021 is comparatively low pay.
This is particularly noteworthy given the positions that were deemed essential workers at the height of the pandemic.
Media emphasized the importance of essential workers, a label that wasn't exclusive to healthcare professionals on the frontlines fighting COVID. While so many of us were relegated to home most of the time, whether we were still working or not, we still needed groceries and other essentials.
Retail salespeople across a variety of sectors were too often overlooked for their commitment and importance in scary times. Their role in the economy is overlooked and under-appreciated in normal times, but the difficulty of the COVID-19 years underscores that.
And the incredibly low pay underscores the lack of appreciation, which in turn, has created an applicant shortfall in recent months.
Jobs in journalism have the opposite problem in that continuously diminishing opportunities dating back to the latter-half of the 2000s have continued. Pew Research finds newsroom employment has fallen 26% since 2008, and an industry record 16,160 jobs were lost in 2020.
Dwindling employment opportunities, poor pay and routine exposure to hazardous conditions — including potential exposure to COVID-19 — make reporter the Worst Job of 2021.