How COVID-19 is impacting the workforce

A programming note from the WorkingNation editorial team

WorkingNation is following the impact of the COVID-19 on the workforce and the future of work.

As businesses and schools temporarily shut their physical doors because of worry surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, and major social events and conferences are cancelled, there are concerns that the pandemic will have a serious impact on the workforce.

The chain reaction from a closure or a cancellation can effect thousands of people.

Yes, there are plenty of workers who can easily do their jobs remotely. IT workers, software developers, customer service workers, and other office workers come immediately to mind. But there are many other workers who can do the same as long as they have a phone, a computer, and internet access.

The problem is that not everyone has a job that works that way.

A concession worker at a sporting event has to be on-site to do his job. A small business owner with a storefront shop is likely to have to keep his or her door open if they want to serve their customers. A construction worker has to go to a job site. A home care worker has to physically be somewhere to take care of their patient. If they don’t go to work, they probably won’t get paid.

Related Story: What happens to arena workers when the NBA shuts down

The most economically vulnerable among us are those people who live paycheck to paycheck, hourly workers, and part-timers. These are the people that stand to lose the most when there are shuttered businesses or schools from a major catastrophic event, such as 9/11 or a public health crisis.

If the business they work for shuts down, they may not be able to pay their rent, or buy medicine, or buy food. They certainly won’t have money to spend at a restaurant, or the movies, or for travel.

For many companies, the shutdowns could be temporary, but they are already impacting the workforce. More than 600 layoffs have been announced as of March 12, according to Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, a global outplacement company that tracks workforce cuts.

The layoffs are connected to closures here in the U.S. and overseas. “We are indeed seeing job cuts from companies that are grappling with Supply Shock. The Port of Los Angeles cut 145 drivers after shipments from China stalled, and a toy maker cut 18 jobs due to a work stoppage in China,” according to Andrew Challenger, Senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

After 9/11, there were massive job losses–hundreds of thousands in just a few weeks–in the airline, hotel, and tourism industries, as people cut back on travel.

That was after a temporary shock to the economic system. A public health crisis plays out slower, but could have still have a similar result. Expect to see more layoffs in the coming weeks.

WorkingNation will continue to report on these workforce developments. Please check these pages often.

Joan Lynch is the Chief Content and Programming Officer for WorkingNation