The American jobs market went through a rollercoaster year in 2020. Leading up to March, forecasters had 2020 on track to be one of the greatest jobs markets on record. Then COVID hit. Unemployment claims soared through the roof. The American economy saw the largest jump in unemployment on record. Forecasters saw a prolonged shutdown that would lead to an incredibly difficult time for many workers.

With this backdrop, one might ask which industries performed the best during 2020. Did the government sector perform well? What about the retail sector? How did tourism employment hold up? Here’s a comparison of how well different sectors did in 2020.

The Sector Look

Before looking at the absolute change in employment by sector over the course of the pandemic, take a guess. Travel down and government up?

Interestingly, although not surprising, the sector that is down the most jobs since the start of 2020 is the Leisure & Hospitality sector, down 3.8 million jobs. Following the Leisure & Hospitality sector is Education & Health, with employment down 1.2 million since the start of 2020. Other industries with employment still down significantly compared to the start of 2020 include local government (down almost 1 million), Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (down 770,000), Professional and Business Services (down 766,000), Manufacturing (down 592,000), Retail Trade (down 392,000), State government (down 286,000), and Natural Resources (down 250,000).

The picture is all completely weak, though. Amazingly, there was one industry that kept adding people to their payroll. Can you guess which industry it was? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the Federal government. Since the start of 2020, employment in the Federal government is up 23,000. Perhaps it is useful to have no budget constraints?

How did the Finance industry perform? The next “best” performing industry was the Finance sector. Over the course of the pandemic, the Finance industry has only seen employment drop by 50,000. Low interest rates, massive spending, and other factors contributed to continued demand for financial services.

Source: Econometric Studios, BLS

A Growth Rate View

Some observers might suggest that looking at employment change on an absolute basis might distort the figures because large employment sectors may show larger job losses simply because they employ more people. The following looks at the jobs picture on a percentage change basis since the start of 2020.

The picture doesn’t change much. Interestingly, the Finance sector still shows up as the second best performing broad sector, with employment only down 0.6% since January 2020 and improving every month since April 2020.

Source: Econometric Studios, BLS

Conclusion

Overall, the financial sector held up incredibly well compared to other employing industries. Unless some unforeseen circumstances resurface in the remaining nine months of 2021, this year looks to be a bright year for the American jobs market and, in particular, the financial industry.

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Hot or Not in 2020 Europe

February 15, 2021

The pandemic reshaped our relationships in ways very few guessed would happen just a couple months before its effects materialized. In March, many prognosticators predicted a year of destruction for financial investors. Amazingly, that “consensus” view failed to materialize. Instead, private equity and venture capital markets across a good portion of the financial world heated up. Here’s a look at the 2020 European picture according to private equity data provider Pitchbook.

A Summary View

On a summary view, venture capital (and private equity investments that could easily be characterized as venture capital) reached an incredible $46 billion. How much did firms invest in 2019? The 2019 figure was $41.8 billion – meaning the pandemic not only didn’t harm VC and PE activity, but led to more VC and PE investment.

According to the Pitchbook data, VC and PE investments were made across the board, from food service delivery to ecommerce. Demand for startups that showed promise was higher than ever.

As of Pitchbook’s December 14th data, VC and PE deal count dropped from 7,502 to 5,883, meaning that the value of the deals that did happen expanded significantly.

Of course, some political areas performed better than others.

The following map has the European VC and PE heat map for 2020. The map is color-coded, with darker blue colors having experienced jumps in VC and PE activity and light blue countries having experienced a decline in VC and PE investment.

Source: Pitchbook

The United Kingdom

In Europe, the UK continued to be the strongest draw, having attracted $13.7 billion in 2020. This occurred even though the number of deals in the UK dropped 27% from the prior year to 1,791 deals.

The UK didn’t have problems creating unicorns. In 2020, the UK saw five unicorns show up, the most among all other European countries. Among the UK-based unicorns were Gousto, Hopin, Revolut, and Deliveroo.

The DACH Region

In the middle of Europe – and Europe’s largest economy – Germany saw VC and PE funding jump 10.9% in 2020 compared to 2019. Among the biggest deals were investments in CureVac (vaccine provider), N26 (fintech provider), and e-scooter startup Tier Mobility.

In Austria, big deals included Bitpanda, Arvelle Therapeutics, and Sophia Genetics.

France and Benelux

Shifting over to west of Germany, France continued to be an active VC and PE market. Among the big deals in France were Ynsect (a startup that breeds insects for animal feed and fertilizer) and Mirakl.

In the Netherlands, VC and PE funding rose 38% across 232 deals. The biggest deals included MessageBird and Mollie.

Nordics

Shifting to the Nordic countries, VC and PE investments rose across the area, from Norway to Finland. Among the big deals were Wolt, Kodit.io, and Klarna.

Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe

The pandemic year of 2020 was also good for most of central, eastern, and southern Europe. Among the big deals included Bolt, Quibim, Milkman, and Enthera.

Summing Up

For a year in which the global economy went through drastic changes, the European private equity and venture capital markets heated up. For many VC and PE companies headed in Europe, 2020 turned out to be much better than expected. May the good times live on forever.

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Over the course of a pandemic-ridden year, more can happen than meets the eye. In an interesting take on what happened in 2020, private equity data provider Pitchbook put together its list of the top 10 deals to happen in 2020. Here they are.

The Top Dark Horse Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Before reading on, can you guess which company Pitchbook would consider the dark horse IPO of 2020? In year when monster companies went public – DoorDash and Airbnb – would you consider one of these companies as the dark horse? According to Pitchbook, the answer is no.

Hint: the following picture is a view.

Did you guess it? According to Pitchbook, the top dark horse company of 2020 was Snowflake. Snowflake was a large surprise to investors, and fairly young and potentially prematurely filed for its IPO.

The speculations on Snowflake fell to the wayside in mid-September when Snowflake burst onto the scene and achieved a $70 billion valuation. Just seven months earlier, Snowflake was valued at $12.4 billion. The company is now worth over $90 billion.

The Burst on the Scene Company

Robinhood was the first of a class of brokerages known as New Age. The company charges no trading fees, catering to novice retail investors making their first foray into equity markets. At first skeptical, investors turned a green eye to the company, writing checks of almost $1.27 billion in 2020 – which was more than half of all its fundraising activity since its founding.

With over 3 million downloads just this year, Robinhood has become an icon in the investing world and worthy of a top 10 mention.

Top Dramas

This past year offered much drama. According to Pitchbook, two of the top 10 storylines were electric care maker Nikola and streaming startup Quibi. Nikola went through a rollercoaster year, beginning the year with a $3.3 billion valuation, that valuation soared to $34 billion in June, only to drop back down to $7 billion.

On Quibi, the streaming app founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. The company raised $1.75 billion over just two years before it came crashing to a halt in 2020. Quibi opted to return $350 million to shareholders rather than risk further losses.

Other Top Mentions

What else did Pitchbook mention in their top 10 list? Pitchbook lists TikTok as the top deal of the year, Roark’s bet on donuts and coffee as the most intriguing, the intersection of SPACs with sports, the top buyout baron, and others.

Summing up

Overall, lots happened over the past year, and with the end of the pandemic potentially in sight, 2021 may turn out to be a big surprise for many private equity and venture capital watchers.

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Pitchbook’s 2020 Private Equity Awards

January 18, 2021

The rollercoaster 2020 is over. It may seem odd in the year of the pandemic, but some amazing things happened in private equity. Here’s a look at private equity (PE) data provider Pitchbook’s take on awards they would hand out for things accomplished during the past year. Dealmaker of the Year In a year when […]

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Pitchbook’s 2021 Private Equity Outlook

January 4, 2021

The 2020 experience was likely nothing any of us has every experienced. For the private equity (PE) industry, the story is no less interesting. With a usual year behind us, what does 2021 have on tap? Here’s a look at private equity data provider Pitchbook’s view of the coming year. A Recording Breaking Year on […]

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What does 2021 hold for private equity and venture capital?

December 21, 2020

Going into 2020, most analysts were predicting a healthy year for private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC). Then the pandemic hit, making observers wonder how well PE and VC would hold up in deal making and fundraising. Now that we’re entering an end to the year, it appears that most PE and VC funds […]

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Down Rounds Slow Down

December 7, 2020

Private equity has been through a roller coaster 2020, especially in terms of valuations. In a fascinating look at private equity conditions in 2020, Pitchbook provides us with a helpful overview. Values Across Quartiles – Angel Pre-Money Valuations Our first look from Pitchbook is valuations across the average, median, 25th percentile, and 75th percentile quartiles. […]

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How has financial employment held up during the pandemic?

November 23, 2020

How has financial employment held up during the pandemic? Every now and then, we like to take a look at the performance of the financial industry compared to other brought industry groupings. Today’s look goes through October 2020 – the most recent month for which data are available. As background As background of the situation, […]

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Europe Still Loves Private Equity and Venture Capital

November 9, 2020

Contrary to what some might think, private equity and venture capital funding is still doing well across Europe in 2020. In a fascinating look, provided by private equity data provider Pitchbook and sponsored by fladgate, the view is almost too good to believe. Here’s a review of the finding. Deal Activity The first view of […]

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Reopening of Economies Has Europe Zooming in Q3

October 26, 2020

By most measures, the second quarter of 2020 is a quarter to lightly forget. Global economies shut their doors in fear of what the coronavirus meant for human health. Deal making in the private equity/venture capital (PE/VC) universe slowed as well, as firms put off potential funding steams and exit strategies. That slowdown changed on […]

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