Category Archives: Unemployment

Helping America’s distressed communities recover from the COVID-19 recession and achieve long-term prosperity

Source: Timothy J. Bartik, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, September 2020

From the summary:
Even before the COVID-19 recession, distressed communities across the United States lacked sufficient jobs. The pandemic’s effects will further damage these local areas, while pushing even more places into economic distress. Without intervention, even a robust national recovery may leave many communities behind. Communities’ responses will be hindered by a lack of resources, and their residents will suffer from lower earnings and increased social problems.

As a solution, this paper proposes a new federal block grant to create or retain good jobs in distressed communities and help residents access these jobs. The block grant would provide long-term flexible assistance to increase local earnings and ensure those gains are broadly shared.

COVID-19 Economic Crisis: By State

Source: Michael EttlingerJordan Hensley, University of New Hampshire, Carsey School of Public Policy, September 18, 2020

KEY FINDINGS
Every state in the country is well down from its February employment levels. Thirty-nine states have lost over 5% of their jobs and the same number of states are still down more jobs than during the Great Recession.

Thirty-three states added fewer jobs in August than they did in July.

In every state lower wage industries have lost far more jobs than high wage industries.

Hard hit states with more COVID-19 cases in August saw worse job growth.

Disparate Disruptions: Intersectional COVID-19 Employment Effects by Age, Gender, Education, and Race/Ethnicity

Source: Phyllis Moen, Joseph H Pedtke, Sarah Flood, Work, Aging and Retirement, Advance Articles, Published: September 12, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
These are unprecedented times, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts public health, social interaction, and employment attachments. Evidence to date has been about broad shifts in unemployment rates as a percent of the labor force. We draw on monthly Current Population Survey data to examine subpopulation changes in employment states across the life course, from January through April 2020. COVID-19 downturns produced disparate life-course impacts. There are increases in unemployment and being out of the workforce at all ages, but especially among young adults, with young women most at risk. Intersectional analyses document conjoint life-course vulnerabilities by gender, educational attainment, and race/ethnicity. For example, Black men aged 20–29 with a college degree experienced a 12.4 percentage point increase in being not in the labor force for other reasons (NILF-other). Individuals with less than a college degree in their 50s and 60s were more likely to become unemployed, regardless of race. And more non-college-educated Asian men in their 60s and 70s reported being retired (6.6 and 8.9 percentage point increases, respectively). Repercussions from the pandemic may well challenge assumptions and possibilities for older adults’ working longer.

Labor, Poverty, and Power

Source: Cambridge Now Blog, September 3, 2020

Countries around the world are struggling with the economic repercussions of the pandemic, and the United States in particular has recorded levels of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. While the CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in March, provided $600/week in supplemental income to some workers, this benefit lapsed at the end of July and no replacement program has been enacted, leaving millions in a state of housing and food insecurity. At the same time, states have made cuts or are considering steep cuts to Medicaid and other social safety programs precisely as need surges, with millions of Americans losing health insurance along with their jobs. A disproportionate number of those who are at risk are Black Americans and people of color who worked—or still work, in some cases, but at minimum wage—in industries without organized labor, which has also been in decline over the past several decades in the United States. Indeed, the precarious position of low-wage workers and the unemployed stands in contrast to legislation designed to protect businesses and employers—for example, a $25 billion bailout to the airline industry, or the GOP Liability Shield Bill, which would give employers sweeping immunity against Covid-19 related lawsuits brought by employees.

We spoke to several Cambridge University Press authors and editors about the legal, political, and historical factors that explain these converging crises and make low-income and unemployed Americans especially vulnerable. We also asked about connections between calls to end anti-Black racism and to reinvigorate organized labor, and, more generally, how anti-labor and anti-poor measures have exacerbated the systemic effects of racism.

The Next Recovery: Regional Leaders and Laggards

Source: Adam Kamins, Regional Financial Review, August 2020
(subscription required)

With the national COVID-19 recession having officially ended, the varying nature of the recovery across regions has become an increasingly important consideration. Some key short- and long-term considerations are examined in order to determine which places are best positioned in the years ahead.

The COVID-19 public health and economic crises leave vulnerable populations exposed

Source: Jevay Grooms, Alberto Ortega, and Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba, Brookings Institution, August 13, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created a new reality worldwide. In the United States it has exposed the fragility of some of the most marginalized groups, particularly the millions of Americans we rely on for some of our most basic necessities. The pandemic has arguably buttressed the racial and ethnic inequities that persist in our society. Black and Hispanic households face additional social and economic disparities which are deeply rooted in structural discrimination and systemic racism—both of which have tremendous implications for health and well-being.

We use a novel panel data set collected between March and July of 2020 to describe disparities in outcomes related to the COVID-19 pandemic across race/ethnicity and employment status. Essential workers are a new class of employee defined as those who work in industries that are considered essential for a society’s survival, including (among others) health care, food service, and public transportation. We find that unemployed and essential workers are the most vulnerable given their lower income, lack of health insurance, and differences across household structure. When evaluated across race/ethnicity, the results suggest that some of these disparities are intensified among Black and Hispanic Americans.

This timely evidence suggests a need for a more robust safety net, such as an expanded unemployment benefits program and more-accessible public health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as more-deliberate targeting of federal support to Black and Hispanic households.

Early Evidence on the Impact of COVID-19 and the Recession on Older Workers

Source: Truc Thi Mai Bui, Patrick Button, Elyce G. Picciotti, NBER Working Paper No. 27448, June 2020

From the abstract:

We summarize some of the early effects and discuss possible future effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on the employment outcomes of older workers in the United States. We start by discussing what we know about how older workers faired in prior recessions in the United States and how COVID-19 and this recession may differ. We then estimate some early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on employment and unemployment rates by age group and sex using Current Population Survey data. We calculate employment and unemployment rates multiple ways to account for the complicated employment situation and possible errors in survey enumeration. We find that while previous recessions, in some ways, did not affect employment outcomes for older workers as much, this recession disproportionately affected older workers of ages 65 and older. For example, we find that unemployment rates in April 2020 increased to 15.43% for those ages 65 and older, compared to 12.99% for those ages 25-44. We also find that COVID-19 and the recession disproportionately affected women, where women have reached higher unemployment rates than men, which was consistent for all age groups and unemployment rate measures we used.

Traditional Measures of Unemployment Are Missing the Mark

Source: Mark Paul, Dollars & Sense, no. 341, web-only, May/June 2019

We’ve heard it countless times in recent media accounts: The economy is at “full employment.” The most recent jobs numbers, out the first week in May, show the official unemployment rate, and applications for unemployment benefits are at a 50-year low. The last time a recovery was able to push the unemployment rate to these levels was in 1969, when my mom was just entering elementary school and the United States was in the heyday of the “Golden Age” of capitalism.

But economists are puzzled. Despite low unemployment (the current rate is just 3.6%), significant wage increases remain elusive. In other words, workers aren’t benefiting much. This is deeply troubling in an era of unprecedented inequality, driven in large part by decades of a falling wage share. The size of our economic pie may be getting bigger, but the wage share, or the share of the economic pie going to workers, has been contracting. Furthermore, a lack of wage growth isn’t allowing for the true recovery that Main Street so desperately needs…..

Future Work

Source: Jeffrey M. Hirsch – University of North Carolina School of Law, February 14, 2019

From the abstract:
The Industrial Revolution. The Digital Age. These revolutions radically altered the workplace and society. We may be on the cusp of a new era—one that will rival or even surpass these historic disruptions. Technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and cutting-edge monitoring devices are developing at a rapid pace. These technologies have already begun to infiltrate the workplace and will continue to do so at ever increasing speed and breadth.

This Article addresses the impact of these emerging technologies on the workplace of the present and the future. Drawing upon interviews with leading technologists, the Article explains the basics of these technologies, describes their current applications in the workplace, and predicts how they are likely to develop in the future. It then examines the legal and policy issues implicated by the adoption of technology in the workplace—most notably job losses, employee classification, privacy intrusions, discrimination, safety and health, and impacts on disabled workers. These changes will surely strain a workplace regulatory system that is ill-equipped to handle them. What is unclear is whether the strain will be so great that the system breaks, resulting in a new paradigm of work.

Whether or not we are on the brink of a workplace revolution or a more modest evolution, emerging technology will exacerbate the inadequacies of our current workplace laws. This Article discusses possible legislative and judicial reforms designed to ameliorate these problems and stave off the possibility of a collapse that would leave a critical mass of workers without any meaningful protection, power, or voice. The most far-reaching of these options is a proposed “Law of Work” that would address the wide-ranging and interrelated issues posed by these new technologies via a centralized regulatory scheme. This proposal, as well as other more narrowly focused reforms, highlight the major impacts of technology on our workplace laws, underscore both the current and future shortcomings of those laws, and serve as a foundation for further research and discussion on the future of work.