Employment during COVID-19 by the numbers
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S., the government scrambled to respond. Authorities in many states across the country implemented mandatory closures of nonessential businesses and social distancing orders to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. While preventative measures like these have been credited for flattening the curve and ultimately saving lives, they have come at a major cost to the economy and the workers who keep it running.
With businesses being forced to close and people hunkered down at home, many employers have had to lay off or furlough entire swaths of their workforce. Applications for unemployment surged by 3,000% in March, with some 30.3 million jobless workers filing for benefits by the end of April. Millions of other workers who lost their jobs have yet to receive unemployment compensation due to the complicated, glitch-riddled process of applying through their states’ overwhelmed systems. A lack of paycheck and worries about receiving benefits are contributing to the stress that 9 in 10 Americans feel about their finances during the pandemic.
The situation doesn’t fare much better for many of the low-income workers deemed essential, such as grocery store clerks, health care workers, and delivery drivers. They have struggled to get the personal protective equipment they desperately need to stay safe at work. With layoffs looming, some clock in every day wondering if it will be their last day at that job. The exposure to the coronavirus has sickened and even killed untold numbers of workers.
It’s going to be a long time before we truly understand the toll the coronavirus has taken on employment in the U.S., but some recent statistics related to workers paint a grim picture. Stacker looked at news articles, research from government agencies, industry reports, and information from think tanks to learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting employment. And while there have been a few bright spots, like some small increases in wages and more flexible working arrangements, employment overall has been experiencing serious consequences from the pandemic.
Read on to see some staggering numbers about employment during COVID-19.
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International Labour Organization predicts 195 million job losses
After initially predicting that the coronavirus would threaten 25 million jobs, the chief of the International Labour Organization revised its forecast on April 8, 2020, to predict that full or partial lockdown orders would impact the equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs. The highest quantity of job losses are expected in the Asia-Pacific region, the most populous in the world, according to UN News.
227 hospitals furlough or lay off health care workers
With elective procedures suspended to reserve services for COVID-19 patients, many U.S. hospitals and health care systems are experiencing a revenue crunch. Layoffs and furloughs have affected workers at more than 220 hospitals that are trying to cut costs, according to Becker’s Hospital CFO Report.
Workers at 46% of companies work remotely
As concern about COVID-19 began growing in early March, companies took measures to protect their employees. A survey of 158 national and multinational firms in North America found that 46% of employers had implemented a remote work policy, as of early March, according to Willis Towers Watson.
Unemployment claims eclipse 30 million in U.S.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused record layoffs in the U.S. In March and April 2020, 30 million Americans had applied for unemployment benefits.
Government boosts weekly unemployment benefits by $600
Workers who’ve lost their jobs can now receive an extra $600 week in their unemployment benefits as part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. The exact dates that unemployed workers are expected to receive this money varies by state, but payments will be retroactive to the date they became eligible or their state signed its agreement with the federal government.
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26.7 million workers exposed to infection monthly
Using federal employment data, researchers at the University of Washington estimated in early March that 26.7 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to COVID-19 or other infections at least once a month. What’s more, 14.4 million workers may be exposed to infection once a week.
Unemployment pays more than wages in 38 states
Unemployment benefits during the pandemic are equal to or higher than typical wages for the lost jobs in 38 states, according to Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore ISI. Unemployment benefits usually provide workers with about 40% of lost wages, but that has changed with the aforementioned $600 supplement.
Frontline workers may receive extra $13 per hour
Senate Democrats are proposing a “Heroes Fund” to help support and retain frontline workers involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response. It would include a $25,000 pay raise for essential frontline workers, which works out to be an extra $13 per hour, until Dec. 31, 2020.
Education Department garnishes wages of 285,000 workers
From March 13–26, 2020, around 285,000 workers who fell behind on their student loan payments had their wages garnished by the Department of Education. They’ve proposed a class action lawsuit that alleges the garnished wages are a violation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Amazon hikes minimum wage by $2 per hour
Amid surging online orders during the pandemic, Amazon has increased the minimum hourly pay for associates from $15 to $17. Despite offering a small pay bump, the online retailer has been criticized for allegedly failing to “thoroughly sanitize infected warehouses” and tell its employees about confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Connie Lin of Fast Company.
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