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Reproduced from the Leuthold Group; Note: Subdivides the total U.S. unemployment rate between four sectors with the lowest average hourly earnings and the remaining nine sectors; Chart: Axios Visuals

Job recovery is arriving much faster for workers in America’s highest earning industries.

Why it matters: The bottom earning industries are nowhere near recovered — right as the economy faces another test from the pandemic.

  • Meanwhile, high earning industries have an unemployment rate that’s approaching normal.

Flashback: The unemployment rate in the highest and lowest earning industries was within a tight range, 3% and 3.5%, respectively, according to investment research firm the Leuthold Group. (Bottom earning sectors have historically seen slightly higher rates of unemployment.)

  • Then the gap exploded when COVID-19 forced the initial wave of widespread lockdowns in the spring.
  • High earning sectors’ unemployment rate rose to 12%. But it was nearly twice as bad for the lowest earning industries, with unemployment peaking at 23%.

Details: Industries like retail, leisure and hospitality, agriculture and nondurable goods are the bottom earning industries.

  • Top earning industries include finance, durable goods, and professional and business services.

Between the lines: The unemployment rate among the low earning sectors remains 6 percentage points above its pre-pandemic level.

  • Recovery is in reach for the high earning industries, with unemployment just 2.5 percentage points higher than pre-crisis levels.

Where it stands: More than half of currently unemployed Americans worked in the bottom earning industries, even though they represent only 24% of the workforce.

What they're saying: With soaring COVID-19 cases leading to restrictions across most of the country, analysts expect the lowest income industries to once again take a bigger hit to employment.

  • "Similar to the summer’s second wave, high-earner, mostly anti-social industries (three-quarters of employment and a higher proportion of total income and spending) will likely again prove largely impervious,” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, wrote in a research note on Wednesday.
  • This could explain why the U.S. might not see as big an economic drag as the coronavirus rages across the country.
  • Top earning workers “quickly and decisively entered a new [economic] expansion — even though 55% of the unemployed still struggle with extremely challenging conditions,” says Paulsen.

Go deeper

Cold December as safety nets expire

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Safety nets are likely to be yanked from underneath millions of vulnerable Americans in December, as the coronavirus surges.

Why it matters: Those most at risk are depending on one or more relief programs that are set to expire, right as the economic recovery becomes more fragile than it's been in months.

25 mins ago - Sports

The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Packed stadiums and a more normal fan experience could return by late 2021, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said yesterday.

Why it matters: If Fauci's prediction comes true, it could save countless programs from going extinct next year.

Trump's 2024 begins

Trump speaking to reporters in the White House on Thanksgiving. Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump is likely to announce he'll run again in 2024, perhaps before this term even ends, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has already set in motion two important strategies to stay relevant and freeze out other Republican rivals. 

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