The most popular jobs change from year to year depending on any number of socio-economic conditions. The U.S. economy and labor markets are still struggling to recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19, with lower-income workers, women, Black and Hispanic people, and those working in the leisure, travel, and hospitality industries among the hardest hit.
Between February and May of 2020, the number of unemployed Americans increased from 6.2 million to 20.5 million. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, one in four people have struggled to pay their bills, a third have taken money out of savings or retirement accounts, and one in six have borrowed money or gotten food from a food bank, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.
Not surprisingly, the unpredictability of today’s job market has compelled many Americans to re-evaluate their career options, and pivot towards industries that promise a little more security. McKinsey & Company estimates that as many as 25% more workers could need to switch occupations than before the pandemic, while Brookings Institution predicts that 42% of the jobs lost due to COVID-19 will eventually be gone for good.
7 Most Popular Jobs in 2021
Given that 66% of unemployed Americans have thought seriously about changing their occupation, what career paths are they most likely to pursue? Below, we outline seven of the most popular jobs in the U.S. right now.
1. Construction worker
Although COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions and border closures resulted in project delays, construction workers were deemed essential by the U.S. government and, in most parts of the country, construction work continued throughout the pandemic.
Despite a decline in the output of the construction sector in 2020, the industry is expected to quickly recover and grow by 15.6% in 2021 – supported by low mortgage rates and government protection forbearance and foreclosure on mortgage payments.
With major plans underway to expand healthcare centers across the country, construction workers can expect to find lots of exciting new job opportunities in this area. In the past six months alone, nine hospitals and health systems have announced, advanced, or completed expansion and renovation projects worth more than $1 billion.
2. Truck drivers
Trucking is a great industry to be in right now – the demand for workers is high and things are likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
McKinsey & Company notes that the growth of e-commerce in the past year has advanced job opportunities in delivery, transportation, and warehousing – predicting that the number of transportation job openings alone could grow by 800,000 in 2021.
In September 2020, Business Insider reported that a shortage of truck drivers combined with the rise of online shopping was generating record-breaking compensation for drivers.
3. Web developer
The rise of remote working and digitization will see job openings for web developers skyrocket in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the employment of web developers will grow 13% between 2018 and 2028, which is significantly higher than the average growth rate.
Not only is a career as a web developer highly future-proof, but it also pays pretty well and the specialist skills developed on the job provide plenty of opportunities for career progression.
4. Healthcare professionals
2020 was the year we all learned to value our healthcare professionals for the heroes they truly are. While jobs in this sector have always been deemed essential, and therefore pretty secure, the past year has seen an increased demand for skilled healthcare professionals.
The most popular positions include nurses, home aides, medical researchers and technicians, health services administrators, and physical therapists. McKinsey & Company predicts that demand for healthcare workers could grow to be higher than pre-pandemic levels with the need to find talent who can support the aging population and develop and deploy medical technologies.
5. Data scientist
Between 2016 and 2019 data scientist was named the number one job in the U.S. by Glassdoor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for data science skills will drive a 27.9 percent rise in employment in the field by 2026.
In the past five years, the number of job postings for data scientists has grown exponentially. These professionals are needed in almost every industry, the average salary is $111,200, and average job satisfaction is 4.25 out of 5.
6. Software engineer
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for software developers, which includes software engineers, will increase by 22% between 2019 and 2029.
The demand for new, innovative software and mobile applications will continue to grow, which will provide countless opportunities for skilled software engineers. In addition, the limited life span of code, increasing complexity of projects, and pace of change in technology mean that a career in software engineering is a pretty secure one.
The enforcement of nationwide lockdowns and the shift to remote working served to accelerate the rise of e-commerce in 2020. The number of online grocery shoppers increased from 16 million in August 2019 to 40 million in April 2020.
This resulted in a surge of job opportunities as demand for workers supporting retail and food delivery services rocketed. Walmart, for example, which is known for its robust e-commerce model, hired 200,000 employees at the beginning of the pandemic and significantly expanded its use of fulfillment centers.
If certain sectors, such as the hospitality industry, struggle to bounce back post-pandemic, displaced workers may well be able to find employment within e-commerce. Approximately 75% of people who used digital channels for the first time in 2020 plan to continue using them in the future.