A look at which occupations in Orlando were hardest hit by COVID-19 layoffs and how automation and low wages make these jobs vulnerable to economic downturns.

Occupational and demographic data provide greater insight on where the impacts from COVID-19 have been felt the hardest and help identify strategies for workforce recovery. In Orlando, five years of job gains were lost in the span of one month, as April’s employment report recorded the staggering loss of 183,200 jobs, 14 percent of all employment in the region.

In this third installment in a series of blog posts, based off the new report by the Foundation for Orlando’s Future titled Re-Imagining Orlando’s Talent Supply: Skills-Based Hiring for Upward Mobility, we focus on what occupations in Orlando were hardest hit by COVID-19 layoffs and how automation and low wages make these jobs vulnerable to economic downtowns.

Download the Skills-Based Hiring Report today!

Occupations Rather Than Industry

Recent economic reporting in Orlando has focused the loss of jobs in Leisure and Hospitality, an industry that encompasses everything from restaurants and bars to museums and theme parks to hotels. However, data on the individual occupations lost, the characteristics of those positions, and the chances of those jobs returning reveal more than industry job counts alone. People work across industries and functions, taking the skills they possess with them and picking up new skills along the way.

Analyzing data from the Florida Research and Economic Information Database (FREIDA), the five jobs initially hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Orlando MSA were:

  1. Waiters and Waitresses
  2. Customer Service Representatives
  3. Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers by Hand
  4. Cooks, Restaurant
  5. General and Operations Managers

Not surprisingly, workers typically associated with Food Service and other Leisure and Hospitality industries were heavily impacted.  However, Customer Service Representatives, Laborers and Movers of Stock by Hand, as well as General and Operations Managers were all within the top five jobs reporting the most layoffs for March 2020. These workers are employed across industries, often in the various aspects of Professional and Business Services. This highlights the spread of layoffs beyond those industries associated with Orlando’s tourism sector and reinforces the importance of focusing on occupations and skills for understanding broader impacts.

Workers Most Vulnerable to Economic Shocks

Three measures reveal which of the occupations listed above are the most vulnerable to disruptions and economic shocks. The first is a measure of how likely that job is to be automated in the future. As the economy begins to recover, the EMSI automation index informs which occupations are less likely to return due to the replacement of human work with technology. 

The second measure is a position’s average wage. Analysis of wages compared to the Orlando average, reveals which workers likely cannot afford to take a hit to their monthly budgets. Workers with low wages tend to hold part-time or service positions based on hourly work, making them especially vulnerable to the specific shocks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lastly, a measure of concentration, the percentage of total employment that one position accounts for in the Orlando Metro, reveals which occupations have the most potential for building resiliency. Industry diversification is widely regarded as one tactic to building resiliency into regional economies. The same logic applies to occupations. A high concentration of employment in one or two occupations puts the broader economy at risk to the unique effects of economic downtowns.

The image below showcases which occupations have a higher than average chance of being automated, make below the regional average wage, and represent a large share of total employment in Orlando. The top three occupations uncovered as the most vulnerable to economic shocks in the Orlando region are:

  1. Waiters and Waitresses
  2. Cashiers
  3. Maids & Housekeeping Cleaners.

Click on the image below to access the interactive data where you can explore these detailed metrics and other vulnerable occupations.

Blog Post Part 3 Graph 2

Next Week

The next post in this series will examine the demographics of these most vulnerable occupations, revealing how the pandemic has impacted certain groups of people more than others as well as the skills they currently have based on thousands of job posts in the Orlando area.

For those interested in reading more about why these occupations are vulnerable to economic shocks and how skills-based hiring tactics benefit these workers as well as the employer seeking talent, download the full Skills-Based Hiring report.

If your company has found success with changing hiring practices to be more skills-based or removing credential requirements in job postings, please contact Senior Director of Talent Initiatives for the Partnership, Danielle Permenter, so that we can share your story.