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What COVID-19 May Leave Behind: Technology-Related Job Postings in Canada

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Many people believe that technological change accelerates during times of economic distress. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused large disruptions of traditional work arrangements and has provided new incentives for firms to speed up the adoption of new technologies. How exactly do firms respond to these incentives? We study technology adoption by comparing the evolution of online postings for technology-related jobs with that of postings for other occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Using text analytics and a large, unstructured dataset collected on the employment website Indeed, we identify job postings for different occupations. We classify these occupations according to whether they are in the area of digital infrastructure, whether they can be performed remotely and whether they are at risk of automation. We then study how changes in pandemic containment policies that vary by province affect these groups of job postings.

We find that job postings for occupations related to digital infrastructure and that allow for remote work decline less during lockdowns and rebound quicker during reopenings than postings for more traditional occupations. Postings for jobs with both low and high risk of automation appear to evolve similarly during lockdowns, but those for jobs with a low risk recover faster during reopenings. Jobs with a higher representation of women and low-income individuals get relatively few postings if they are not linked to new technologies. Technology adoption as a result of the COVID-19 containment policies as documented in the findings may affect current and future productivity.