These 6 Industries Are Booming During the Pandemic — and They’re Hiring

A worker cleans and disinfects playground equipment in Las Vegas.
A worker cleans and disinfects playground equipment due to the coronavirus outbreak at a park Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Las Vegas. John Locher/AP Photo

For most areas of the economy, the fallout from the coronavirus has been devastating.

Thousands of businesses have had to shutter, at least temporarily. As the economy creaks back open, some states have seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, forcing businesses to once again close their doors.

As a result, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits.

But in the midst of this crisis, some parts of the economy are flourishing. Their services are in greater demand, which means they need workers. We’ve identified six industries that are booming, to the tune of more than 1 million new job openings. These areas are ripe for bridge jobs that can help you make it through the recession.

1. Call Centers (Especially Remote Ones)

As the pandemic drags into the summer, call centers have been able to weather the storm comfortably, relatively speaking. As more consumers are shopping, banking and entertaining themselves online, they’re more likely to phone in a question rather than walk into a storefront.

Major companies increasingly rely on third-parties to handle their customer service. They’re called business process outsourcers (BPOs), and they’ve been hiring in droves lately.

Remote employers Liveops and TTEC are recruiting a total of 20,000 remote workers. As The Penny Hoarder populates our Work-From-Home Jobs Portal, we’ve noticed several other BPOs with hiring surges, such as Working Solutions and VIPdesk.

2. Deep Cleaners

As states reopen, many employers are opting for a deep clean before sending their workers back into the office. And when new infections crop up in a workplace, that can mean another call to the cleaners.

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, that although “deep cleaning” services are highly sought after, the phrase doesn’t mean very much. It’s not a technical term, but it usually involves sanitizing surfaces with heavy-duty chemicals. A regional cleaning business in Arizona, California and Nevada told the L.A.Times that it’s received hundreds of calls requesting coronavirus deep cleans.

3. Delivery and Transportation Companies

The pandemic has changed the way we shop. Items are flying off the virtual shelves like never before, maybe out of necessity, panic, boredom or a mixture of all three.

Amazon, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates have reported huge increases in online orders.

Amazon first announced it would hire 100,000 new workers across all distribution centers and delivery networks. Then it tacked on another 75,000 for good measure.

Grocery delivery app Instacart is bringing on 300,000 full-service shoppers. These gig workers take orders through a smartphone app, shop at a local market and deliver the items directly to the customer. Full-service shoppers are considered independent contractors and don’t receive typical benefits.

Delivery company FedEx is also filling 35,000 positions. In-demand positions include warehouse workers, package handlers and other logistics-related roles.

Workers for both Amazon and Instacart have staged strikes across the country to demand better pay, protection and benefits during the pandemic, but the companies didn’t budge much.

4. Grocery and Convenience Stores

A man walks out of a 7-Eleven store in Florida.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

In the early days of the outbreak, consumers flocked to supermarkets. Media reports depicting empty shelves were commonplace. Grocers and retailers have had to go into hyperdrive to keep their stores stocked.

The Penny Hoarder confirmed hiring initiatives at 7-Eleven, Albertsons, CVS, Kroger, Publix, Walgreens and Walmart.. Shelf stockers, cashiers and warehouse workers are in high demand. To entice new workers, many of those employers now offer paid sick leave under certain coronavirus-related conditions.

In total, those major employers have created more than 200,000 new positions since the start of the pandemic.

Several media outlets are reporting that some Aldi and Costco locations are hiring as well.

5. Home Improvement Stores

Social media sites are flooded with photos of people’s self-isolation DIY projects. A remodeled kitchen. A backyard garden. A school-bus-turned-tiny-home.

Those newfound hobbies mean business for home improvement and hardware stores. Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe’s have gone on hiring sprees. Combined, they’ve created more than 80,000 new positions.

Retail, supply-chain and corporate jobs are immediately available.

6. Restaurants — Some of Them

Overall, restaurants have taken a beating. Dining out is mostly a social experience, and with social distancing measures in place, dining rooms have had to limit capacity or shut down entirely.

Some nimble restaurants have ramped up their takeout operations in response. Food delivery apps have played a part in their success, waiving delivery fees. But it’s really the restaurants that already had the delivery infrastructure in place that are shining now.

Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut need pizza bakers and delivery drivers immediately. In total, the pizza companies have 60,000 new openings.

Fast food restaurants are also hanging in there. Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds and Taco Bell have had recent nationwide hiring efforts to onboard more than 300,000 workers.

Reality of Service-Industry Gigs During the Pandemic

While white-collar employees are better suited to work remotely, blue-collar workers are toiling on the frontlines during the pandemic – often without benefits.

Service industry jobs are historically low paying and typically don’t come with paid sick leave and health insurance. Many W-2 employees get only what’s required by law: workers comp, OSHA protections and eligibility for Social Security and unemployment insurance.

Gig workers, on the other hand, receive even less because they’re classified as independent contractors, meaning the company isn’t technically employing them.

“During this pandemic crisis, those who have been told they’re self employed, their employer hasn’t been paying into unemployment insurance or workers compensation or providing them with sick leave,” said Lawrence Mishel, a senior labor-market economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a pro-labor think tank.

“They are very vulnerable to losing their job and getting sick,” Mishel added.

Recent legislation seeks to remedy those issues.

  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act provides paid sick leave for the coronavirus and extends family medical leave benefits. But there are loopholes. Businesses with less than 50 employees can be exempt, and the law doesn’t apply to businesses with more than 500 employees (read: all of the companies mentioned above).
  • The $2 trillion federal stimulus package beefs up unemployment insurance programs and, for the first time federally, extends unemployment benefits to gig workers through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
They are very vulnerable to losing their job and getting sick.

For Some Workers, a Newfound Appreciation

Amid the frustration and anxiety, some service workers are receiving newfound appreciation from the public.

When a $66 Instacart order blipped onto the phone screen of Jacob Howell, a shopper from northern Virginia, he “jumped on it immediately because that’s what you do,” he told The Penny Hoarder.

In Howell’s area, most orders are low paying and have tiny tips – “you would probably be a little offended” if you saw how low the pay is, he said.

Because of grocery shortages, many orders include items that need to be substituted or refunded. Sometimes the entire order has to be canceled. It requires a lot of communication with the customer. For this order, Howell said the customer “was very bummed about the balloons I had to refund.”

He knew it was for a family. Instead of giving up, he decided to drive to a different store in search of a similar pack of balloons. “Walmart was on my way, and I just picked some up and put them in with the groceries” as a surprise.

The customer was ecstatic and left him a glowing review — plus a $70 tip.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.