15 Shocking Statistics About the Post-Pandemic U.S. Job Market

While the job market has improved drastically since spring 2020, some statistics — including trends on AI and Americans quitting their jobs — paint a less rosy picture.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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News about the U.S. job market has been largely positive over the past few months. The unemployment rate has stayed relatively low at 3.6% and 311,000 jobs were added in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

However, despite all this talk of a thriving job market, there are some less rosy trends as well — like workers struggling to retire on time and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are 15 statistics that show the mixed scenario that is the current job market. While they may not paint an entirely pretty picture, they do show where there are opportunities for those willing to make the right moves. 

61% of employees want to leave their jobs in 2023

Syda Productions/Adobe woman holding moving box with all her essentials getting out of office with employees applauding in background

According to research by online recruiting company Zippia, 61% of employees said they hoped to leave their current job in 2023. This data comes despite 65% of employees saying they are happy with their jobs.

Financial incentives may be behind the high number of employees looking to jump ship, as the company also found income was the top reason people were unsatisfied with their jobs.

The workforce participation rate dropped to 62.2%

Lumos sp/Adobe mother happily playing with daughter

The number of Americans participating in the workforce dropped from 63.3% in February 2020 (before the pandemic shut down businesses across the country) to 62.2% today, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A survey by the Chamber found that there are a variety of reasons people who lost their jobs during the pandemic have not returned to work — including a lack of access to childcare, illness, low wages, and early retirement.

The rate of working moms hasn’t bounced back

Kay Abrahams/peopleimages.com/Adobe happy boy kissed by caring mother

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, 3.5 million mothers left their jobs to care for their families, causing the rate of working moms to drop from 70% to 55%.

While many have gone back to work, many have not, unable to find childcare. Women are now participating in the workforce at the lowest rates since the 1970s.

4.2 million people quit their jobs in November 2022

Charnchai saeheng/Adobe businessman showing resignation letter to employer boss

As 2022 came to a close, social media was rife with tales of “quiet quitting,” “rage applying,” and the like — and many people took the trend to heart. 

A whopping 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2022, and more than 50 million quit during that year.

So far, hiring and re-hiring have stayed ahead of resignations, but the trend is that more dissatisfied workers are willing to quit and never look back.

Unemployment paid more than work for majority in 2020-2021

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe unemployment benefits application form

When large swaths of the workforce found themselves without jobs in the early days of the pandemic, the government enhanced unemployment benefits (initially adding $600 per week, then dropping it to $300 extra dollars per week). The program lasted through September 2021.

A whopping 68% of the people claiming these benefits were making more on unemployment than they were when they were working, indicative of how low wage levels had been.

The childcare industry lost 370,600 jobs in early 2020

dikushin/Adobe little girl with closed eyes and loving caring mother

Between February and April 2020, the childcare industry lost 370,600 jobs — and it has still not fully bounced back. The childcare industry employment rate is still 10% lower than it was pre-pandemic.

Historically, about 95% of all childcare workers are women. But in an industry, like childcare, with low wages, it doesn’t pay for those women to work. 

So now, there just aren’t enough childcare workers or centers. As a result, many working parents have struggled to find good, affordable childcare, further depressing women’s workforce participation.

Hospitality employment is still below pre-pandemic levels

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe smooth procedure of arriving at a hotel

In the BLS’ monthly jobs report, the bureau noted that there were significant job gains in leisure and hospitality in February 2023. 

Yet, employment in the industry — which was hit hard in early 2020 as widespread travel bans took effect — is still below pre-pandemic levels.

Around 105,000 jobs were added in February, yet employment is still 2.4% below what it was in February 2020.

COVID-19 drove 3 million into early retirement

pikselstock/Adobe senior man looking out of window at home

By the fall of 2021, the pandemic had driven 3 million Americans into early retirement.

Currently, the retirement age (to receive full Social Security benefits) is 66 to 67 (depending on when the retiree was born). 

Still, by the fall of 2021, 50.3% of adults aged 55 and older were retired, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. That number was up from 48.1% in the fall of 2019.

10 million jobs are vacant across the country

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe A help wanted sign

According to the latest data from the Chamber of Commerce, about 10 million jobs are currently open across the U.S. But recent unemployment stats show that only 5.7 million workers are currently unemployed.

The data indicates that we have more jobs than workers willing to fill them. If you are looking for a job, this puts you in a great position.

Do you dream of retiring early? Take this quiz to see if it's possible.

Only 20% of employees are passionate about their jobs

Rawpixel.com/Adobe group of students laboratory lab in science classroom

According to Zippia’s research, while 65% of working Americans are “happy” with their jobs, only 20% reported being “passionate” about what they do.

The jobs that workers considered the most meaningful tended to be in the fields of healthcare, education, or the clergy.

51% of employees are ‘not engaged’ at work

1st footage/Adobe bored young asian woman typing laptop in office

On a related note, Zippia’s research also indicates that many Americans are just going through the motions at work — with 51% of workers saying they are “not engaged” in the workplace.

This could be another driving factor behind the high percentage of employees looking to change jobs this year.

Only 31% of young adults are satisfied with their work

bernardbodo/Adobe confused woman

Zippia’s research on job satisfaction also found that the youngest adults, between the ages of 18 and 34, tended to find the least amount of satisfaction with their work. Only 31% of those surveyed reported being completely satisfied, though that did seem to increase with age.

In the 30 to 49 category, 42% of respondents said they were satisfied with their work.

37% of Americans fear losing their jobs to automation

ipopba/Adobe engineer checking and controlling automation robot arms

The rise in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has led to insecurities among many, especially as headline after headline in late 2022 reported on the genius of ChatGPT and how it was coming for our jobs.

According to Zippia’s research, about 37% of Americans are worried that their roles will be replaced by a rise in automation.

Automation could eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030

PlatooStock/Adobe robotic engineer maintenance and control in factory warehouse

And it could happen: Zippia projects that 73 million jobs across the U.S. could be replaced by automation in less than a decade.

However, despite that staggering number — it’s also projected to create 58 million new jobs.

85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t today

jirsak/Adobe cryptocurrencies investment

Zippia’s research also indicates that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 aren’t around today. 

This may seem far-fetched (or even like science fiction), but many jobs that do exist today — including jobs in social media, app development, cryptocurrency, and more — were created within the last 20 or so years.

Bottom line

kamiphotos/Adobe hr department is reviewing the resumes of job applicant

While shocking, the job trends do indicate that more and more working Americans are holding out or ready to leave their current gig for better paying jobs — especially in an effort to offset inflation costs.

This trend, and the growing number of job openings, may give job seekers a unique advantage when it comes to negotiating salary and benefits packages either in their current job or in a new one.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.