Where the Action Will Be: The U.S. Recovery Timeline

September 3, 2020
Author: Glenn Hunter

Companies able to regroup and survive the pandemic’s economic impact will be well-positioned to thrive beginning in the spring of 2021, when the U.S. economy will reaccelerate en route to a full recovery by the end of 2023. That’s according to an analysis by LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy, which also has identified which of the country’s industries and metro areas will fare best, and which will lag.

Though full recovery is still years away, most industries will see positive signs starting in spring of 2021.

Over the next few months, economic growth is expected to sputter with COVID-19 counts still rising, disruptions from school openings and politicians at loggerheads over more stimulus spending. But if a vaccine is developed soon and the pandemic eases, LaborIQ by ThinkWhy expects normal growth patterns should resume by spring of 2021.


By 2022, several industries should be back to their pre-pandemic hiring levels, led by Construction, Education, Financial Activities and Healthcare. But Government, whose state and local sectors have been hobbled by a severe drop in tax revenue, won’t fully recover until 2025. And for the hard-hit Leisure and Hospitality and Mining and Logging industries, it will be 2026 or even later before employment returns to the levels they enjoyed in 2019.

Related: The Recovery Continues: A Look at Leading and Lagging Industries


By metro, LaborIQ by ThinkWhy sees southeastern and southwestern markets bouncing back fastest, with metros like Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix fully recovering by 2022. The next wave of recovering cities will include tech hubs like Seattle and San Francisco, while metros with serious structural and competitive issues, such as Chicago and New York, won’t recover until 2024. The last areas to bounce back will include Las Vegas and Honolulu, which are heavily dependent on the pandemic-strangled travel and tourism industries.

Companies focused on recruitment and sales would do well to concentrate their growth strategies on the fastest-recovering industries and metros. Over the next few years, LaborIQ by ThinkWhy predicts that’s where all the action will be.

ThinkWhy continuously monitors and forecasts labor data at all levels, measuring impact to MSAs, industries, occupations and businesses across the U.S.