Changing U.S. Labor Market is Changing U.S. Media Consumption

by Corinne Casagrande, SVP Strategy

In the spring of 2020, the Labor Department reported that over 30 million jobs were lost because of the coronavirus pandemic. Labor reports show that this July, payrolls were not only back up to pre-pandemic levels, but were even higher than February 2020. While the jobs are back, they have shuffled around to different places. Changes in the way consumers live, shop and play means jobs have not been filled where they were lost.

More jobs on the move: higher payrolls in transportation, warehousing and construction

The transportation and warehousing sector saw the most growth, with July payrolls up 12.9% from pre-pandemic levels. As warehouse and delivery infrastructure is added to satisfy more e-commerce demand, more people are employed on the roads (or on their feet) all day.

Why should marketers care? Changes to what people are doing with 40 hours per week (or more) strongly affects their media diet. Per MRI, 32% of people working in transportation and moving materials are heavy terrestrial radio users, more than any other occupation. If we attribute that to job conditions and environment (and we should because radio has always had a strong correlation with vehicle usage), we may have just added 239,000 Americans heavily dialed in to their AM/FM radio.

More listening time should radiate beyond an Amazon hiring spree.  The broader construction sector payrolls are also up 1% compared to pre-pandemic levels. People who work in production, installation, maintenance and repair and construction are very light TV watchers, if they tune in at all.  However, they are more likely to be heavy radio listeners, with the majority listening to radio four times the amount of time they spend watching TV (per MRI.)

The most recent Edison Share of Ear Study, a quarterly report on audio consumption habits, confirms that Americans are spending even more time with digital audio; listening is up 9% YoY. Listener tastes change throughout the day based on where they are and what they are doing. The study finds that people are 20% more likely to listen to personalities or talk at work, and 8% more likely to save the news and informational content for the privacy of their car or truck.  With the retail industry as a whole rocking 207,800 more jobs last month than February 2020, it’s also interesting to note that people are 13% more likely to listen to music at retail locations.

Audio amplifies beyond vehicles: more people are working with earbuds in

Professional and business services rapidly added jobs, up 4.6% from pre-pandemic levels. As many as 58% of professionals have the opportunity to work from home at least one day per week, and 35% work remote full-time, per McKinsey’s Spring 2022 American Opportunity Survey.   A study by Broadbeam Media found that 66% percent of professionals always or often listened to audio while working remotely, a significant increase from their listening habits when on-location. Digital audio growth is supported by the numbers, led by the daily growth we’ve seen in podcasts; 29% of adults 18-34 can now be reached daily by podcasts, per the Q3 Edison Share of Ear study.

Lower labor levels in leisure and government

Which sectors are shedding employees? Jobs in leisure and hospitality are still down 7.1% compared to pre-pandemic, representing the biggest payroll loss of any industry. Hospitality workers tend to be younger, with a steady diet of social media in-between serving guests. While hospitality workers spend 41% more time on social on average per MRI, they are much less likely to watch a lot of TV.  They’re not tuning into the TV during primetime when it conflicts with job hours that don’t always follow a 9-5 pattern.  However, having more people on their couches in the evening doesn’t do anything to help primetime linear ratings, as SVODs continue to eat up all the viewership.

How we spend our days is how we spend our life

As white-collar workers, marketers have heard plenty about the “Great Reshuffling,” where professionals have jumped firms for different roles and opportunities. With the entire U.S. labor market on our dance card, it’s important to understand the job movement between industries as payrolls rise and fall with changing consumer preferences.  How an employed consumer spends their time greatly affects how we can get their attention.

View the original article published in The Marketing Insider from MediaPost