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Justin Fox

There Are Two Recessions, Not One

The lower-paid industries that were hammered hardest by Covid-19 are starting to come back. The rest of the economy might take longer.

At your service, again.

At your service, again.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Of the 21.4 million nonfarm payroll jobs that disappeared in the U.S. from mid-February to mid-April, 17.6 million, or 86%, were in the six lowest-paid (as measured by average weekly wages in February) of the 11 supersectors into which the Bureau of Labor Statistics divides our economy. In May, those supersectors together added 3 million jobs, or well more than the 2.5 million in job gains reported overall on Friday.

In the five highest-paid supersectors, the pandemic-induced job losses were generally less severe, but only two saw job gains in May.