How Coronavirus Is Affecting the Digital Labour Market

Entering 2020, few could have predicted the major changes to living and working that would be thrust upon the population of almost the entire world. Despite a few naysayers who had been predicting an “overdue” economic crash for a few years now, most experts were expecting growth in most major economies to see significant growth.

Things began changing very quickly, as country by country, economies shut down as the vast majority of people were told to stay at home. With restaurants, bars, cafes, non-essential shops, and the leisure sector all closed, discretionary spending by consumers tanked.

With consumers not spending, planes not flying, and many not at work, major stock indices took a dive. As this infographic states, the Dow Jones fell around 28% in the space of a month, with markets in Europe and Asia also showing similar declines. As economies have begun opening up, the stock markets have been very optimistic, erasing most of the losses that they’d incurred by mid-June.

Not Over Yet

However, many economists are predicting this to be a short-lived recovery as a ticking time bomb of unemployment edges closer to exploding around the world.

In the United Kingdom, around 9 million Brits are currently having their salaries paid by the government through its “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme”. Some of these employees are expected to go back to work as non-essential shops and some other sectors begin opening back up.

However, this won’t account for all jobs that are currently furloughed. Martin Lewis, the founder of the Money Saving Expert website recently predicted that hundreds of thousands of people are likely to be made redundant in the coming months as the government support programmes are wound up.

Things are similar in the US, where there are around 20 million people currently unemployed.

Many of these job losses will be in the travel, retail, and leisure sectors where many businesses will fail as a result of restricted trading.

How Will the Digital Job Market be Affected?

Jobs in digital marketing, programming and other related digital jobs have seen a rise during the crisis. Many businesses have been investing heavily in more search engine optimisation, redirecting marketing budgets to efforts that will yield results in the medium to long term.

Ecommerce, streaming and gaming have all performed well, with the downloads of mobile games rising by more than 50% during the spring.

These roles can typically be done from home, so haven’t been affected as much by the requirements for social distancing. We’ve also seen more traditional industries quickly enact remote working, with companies like Twitter going as far as saying employees can now work from home forever.

The long term effects of this are still difficult to predict since we do not yet know how many people will return to the traditional office working pattern once restrictions are lifted in full.

However, if more people and businesses, who have seen the benefits of remote working, decide to keep it permanently, we may see a more mobile digital labour market where people can work for businesses in other cities, countries and continents. This would be an interesting prospect and could have many positive and negative effects on the economy.

The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus on the World - infographic
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