Out for delivery in Manhattan. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

As every sector sheds jobs, grocery chains and delivery companies are bucking the trend and hiring by the hundreds of thousands.

The big picture: While much of America stays home, a big portion of the jobs lost in the retail and restaurant sectors are being reallocated to the delivery economy.

  • An illuminating stat: Before the pandemic, there were very few searches for grocery positions on the jobs site ZipRecruiter. Since the start of the crisis, searches have spiked 22%, says Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter.
  • Amazon has hired 175,000 new workers in recent weeks.
  • Instacart tells Axios that its network of personal shoppers — defined as individuals who have fulfilled an order in the last 30 days — has jumped from 200,000 when the crisis began to 500,000 today.
  • Walmart has hired nearly 200,000 people.

Postings for grocery and delivery workers haven't dwindled, Pollak says.

  • In fact, postings that include the terms "desperate need" or "urgent need" for candidates rose 15-fold between February and March, and then doubled again in April.

Yes, but: The quality of these jobs hasn't changed despite the demand. The pay being offered for jobs like delivery driver and grocery picker hasn't risen above pre-pandemic levels. And around 10% of the ZipRecruiter postings are explicitly for temporary gigs, compared to less than 2% before the crisis, Pollak says.

What to watch: It's likely that some of this temporary swelling in the grocery and delivery sectors will outlast the coronavirus as consumers' habits change.

  • Those who have turned into grocery delivery evangelists won't suddenly switch back to shopping in-person all the time.

The bottom line: "In the end, the companies that are supporting stay-at-home economies will probably need a workforce that is bigger than it was before the pandemic, but smaller than it gets to at the height of the pandemic," Jed Kolko, Indeed's chief economist, tells Axios.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 12, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Industry's digital update

On Wednesday August 12, @Work author Erica Pandey hosted a conversation on how the coronavirus has accelerated a nationwide shift to e-commerce, featuring Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen.

Rodney McMullen discussed how grocery stores have adjusted to changing times and leaned more on contactless options — like online ordering with curbside delivery — to meet customers' needs.

  • On a hybrid shopping experience for customers: "One of the things that we've found is customers that use us online also like to come into our stores. That's one of the reasons why it's important to have a totally seamless experience where customers can do whatever's easiest for them at that particular point in time. From our view, part of this [shift to online shopping] will be permanent.
  • How coronavirus has changed trends in grocery shopping: "When people shop, the basket sizes are significantly bigger when you look at today versus before the pandemic. The other thing that's causing some of [the larger basket sizes] is families have moved back in together. I know a lot of kids have moved back with their parents."

Sallie Krawcheck discussed the financial industry, focusing on how women are being impacted by COVID-19 in their places of work and in their approach to finances.

  • How gender inequities can be amplified by remote work: "Women are a greater share of essential workers and are losing their jobs at a greater rate. And it's a problem at the most subtle level — women are finding all of the micro-inequities of the workplace. It's hard to get a word in edgewise in a meeting. Questions like 'how do I get my point of view heard?' are being really amplified in a Zoom era."
  • On the future role of in-person financial advising and transactions: "[Finance] is going digital first...The argument that you're not going to have the same relationship [with your financial advisor] if you don't meet in person isn't right."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with
Okta CEO Todd McKinnon who discussed how brick-and-mortar businesses have shifted to e-commerce as a result of the pandemic.

  • "Companies [are] realizing that we're in this pandemic world for a long time. So they really have to have their digital strategies put together...When you can't go to the hardware store, the hardware store has to get online. And that's happening now."

Thank you Okta for sponsoring this event.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.