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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many Americans who have been out of work for months and hold jobs in struggling industries like travel and hospitality are thinking about switching careers entirely.

The big picture: It's not so easy. Jumping into new roles and new fields requires training, which can be too costly or difficult to come by. And even after training, starting all over again usually means a huge pay cut, experts say.

Let's zoom in on restaurants. In February, food service workers were 3.1 times more likely to click on food service job postings than any other postings, according to Indeed data provided to Axios.

  • In April, they were just 1.9 times as likely to do so. Interest rebounded to 2.7 times by September, as restaurants slowly started to reopen, but it still remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
  • "With colder weather starting to settle in, the restaurant industry faces tremendous challenges ahead," says AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed. "Depending on how the winter goes, food service worker interest in their sector may struggle to fully recover."

But getting jobs outside of your industry often requires reskilling and retraining, and while there are some success stories, many workers don't want to or can't afford to go back to school.

  • "People want jobs. They don’t want training," says Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
  • The prospect of starting over seems daunting to workers, especially if they are older than 40, he says. And even when people do successfully switch careers, they start with a 40% pay cut, on average.

"Some will be able to make the jump to a new a career right away," says Jane Oates, president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit that raises awareness about the challenges facing U.S. workers, and a former Labor Department official.

  • Think of a banker who loses their job when a branch closes and finds new work doing back-office finances at a company.
  • For a bartender, such a switch might seem tougher. But that person can leverage their people skills for jobs in customer service in new industries.
  • "Anybody who has earned a paycheck has skills," says Oates.

Go deeper: USA Today dives into career-switching with the story of a bartender-turned-coder.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2021 - Health

Women's health care jobs aren't coming back as fast as men's

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care jobs held by women have come back much more slowly than jobs held by men, mirroring trends in the economy overall.

Why it matters: The vast majority of health care workers infected with COVID-19 have been women, and they've borne the brunt of the industry's economic woes, too.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.