As technology companies sent workers home in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, they also were among the best equipped to keep staff since employees didn’t need to be at the office to sit in front of a computer.
And as it turned out, such companies not only added jobs during the pandemic but the overall sector saw year-over-year job growth in September, according to data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
They weren’t the only ones. Other types of work thrived in a pandemic economy, including couriers and messengers, which had a 35.3% annual growth; beverage manufacturing, at 13.2%; and building services, like pest control or grounds maintenance, at 11.8%. However, job growth in those areas is likely because of the pandemic rather than despite it.
“If you think about it, this (tech) is one industry where it’s more likely you’ll be able to work from home,” said Ryan Gedney, senior economist at the Department of Labor. “If you want to identify the key driver of Colorado’s employment growth, really since 2015, it would be this sector. This has been one of the strongest growing sectors in Colorado and really a bright spot in the post-Great Recession recovery.”
The sector Gedney speaks of is “professional, scientific and technical” group, which includes engineering, computer systems design and technical services. It also includes legal and architectural services. It wasn’t a large annual growth, at 3.4% from a year ago, but by comparison, nearly every other sector saw a decline during the same period.
The hardest hit industries were personal and laundry services, at -32.8%; accommodations, at -27.1%; and arts, entertainment and recreation, at 21.5%. Other occupations that allowed some employees work from home still saw declines as the economy hurt, including the financial and insurance sector.
Pandemic unemployment has heavily impacted the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries. About 26.4% of the 770,928 first-time claims filed since mid-March were jobs within those industries.While those industries have regained jobs since May, they are still below where they were a year ago But as the number of coronavirus cases increases in Colorado again, there’s probably more interest in jobs that can survive another pandemic.
And tech companies are benefiting. There’s been story after story about tech companies experiencing explosive growth, such as Zoom, the videoconferencing service that became a verb as business users started using it from home and with their families. The company, which has an office in Denver, said it’s increased its global workforce 42% since January to 3,400 employees.
On the other hand, there are tech companies that didn’t fare as well, like ride-sharing service Uber, which reported last week that third-quarter bookings are still down 53% from a year ago.