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The U.S. Labor Market during the Beginning of the Pandemic Recession

Author

Listed:
  • Tomaz Cajner
  • Leland D. Crane
  • Ryan A. Decker
  • John Grigsby
  • Adrian Hamins-Puertolas
  • Erik Hurst
  • Christopher Kurz
  • Ahu Yildirmaz

Abstract

Using weekly administrative payroll data from the largest U.S. payroll processing company, we measure the evolution of the U.S. labor market during the first four months of the global COVID-19 pandemic. After aggregate employment fell by 21 percent through late-April, employment rebounded somewhat through late-June. The re-opening of temporarily shuttered businesses contributed significantly to the employment rebound, particularly for smaller businesses. We show that worker recall has been an important component of recent employment gains for both re-opening and continuing businesses. Employment losses have been concentrated disproportionately among lower wage workers; as of late June employment for workers in the lowest wage quintile was still 20 percent lower relative to mid-February levels. As a result, average base wages increased between February and June, though this increase arose entirely through a composition effect. Finally, we document that businesses have cut nominal wages for almost 7 million workers while forgoing regularly scheduled wage increases for many others.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomaz Cajner & Leland D. Crane & Ryan A. Decker & John Grigsby & Adrian Hamins-Puertolas & Erik Hurst & Christopher Kurz & Ahu Yildirmaz, 2020. "The U.S. Labor Market during the Beginning of the Pandemic Recession," NBER Working Papers 27159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27159
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wright, Austin L. & Sonin, Konstantin & Driscoll, Jesse & Wilson, Jarnickae, 2020. "Poverty and economic dislocation reduce compliance with COVID-19 shelter-in-place protocols," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 544-554.
    2. Murillo Campello & Gaurav Kankanhalli & Pradeep Muthukrishnan, 2020. "Corporate Hiring under COVID-19: Labor Market Concentration, Downskilling, and Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 27208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Couch, Kenneth A. & Fairlie, Robert W. & Xu, Huanan, 2020. "Early evidence of the impacts of COVID-19 on minority unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 192(C).
    4. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2020. "Is COVID-19 'The Great Leveler'? The Critical Role of Social Identity in Lockdown- induced Job Losses," Working Papers 34, Ashoka University, Department of Economics.
    5. Humphries, John Eric & Neilson, Christopher A. & Ulyssea, Gabriel, 2020. "Information frictions and access to the Paycheck Protection Program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    6. Oriol Aspachs & Ruben Durante & Alberto Graziano & Josep Mestres & José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2020. "Real-Time inequality and the welfare state in motion: Evidence from COVID-19 in Spain," Economics Working Papers 1741, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    7. Katona, Márton & Petrovics, Nándor, 2021. "Válság és együttműködés. A koronavírus-járvány okozta lehetséges intézményi változások és a kooperatív közszolgáltatások [Crisis and cooperation: possible institutional changes caused by the corona," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 76-95.
    8. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & John Coglianese, 2020. "Projecting Unemployment Durations: A Factor-Flows Simulation Approach With Application to the COVID-19 Recession," NBER Working Papers 27566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Cho, Seung Jin & Lee, Jun Yeong & Winters, John V., 2020. "Employment Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic across Metropolitan Status and Size," IZA Discussion Papers 13468, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Titan Alon & Matthias Doepke & Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, 2020. "This Time It’s Different: The Role of Women’s Employment in a Pandemic Recession," Working Papers 2020-057, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    11. Hackethal, Andreas & Weber, Annika, 2020. "Fiscal policies and household consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic: A review of early evidence," SAFE White Paper Series 76, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    12. Dingel, Jonathan I. & Neiman, Brent, 2020. "How many jobs can be done at home?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    13. Greg Kaplan & Benjamin Moll & Giovanni L. Violante, 2020. "The Great Lockdown and the Big Stimulus: Tracing the Pandemic Possibility Frontier for the U.S," NBER Working Papers 27794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Tomaz Cajner & Andrew Figura & Brendan M. Price & David Ratner & Alison E. Weingarden, 2020. "Reconciling Unemployment Claims with Job Losses in the First Months of the COVID-19 Crisis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-055, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. , 2020. "The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Expectations," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2020-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    16. Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Viet Nguyen, Cuong, 2021. "Gender inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic: Income, expenditure, savings, and job loss," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    17. Leonardo Fabio Morales & Leonardo Bonilla-Mejía & Jose Pulido & Luz A. Flórez & Didier Hermida & Karen L. Pulido-Mahecha & Francisco Lasso-Valderrama, 2020. "Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Colombian Labor Market: Disentangling the Effect of Sector-Specific Mobility Restrictions," Borradores de Economia 1129, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    18. Leslie, Emily & Wilson, Riley, 2020. "Sheltering in place and domestic violence: Evidence from calls for service during COVID-19," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    19. Guido Matias Cortes & Eliza C. Forsythe, 2020. "The Heterogeneous Labor Market Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 20-327, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    20. Oriol Aspachs & Ruben Durante & Alberto Graziano & Josep Mestres & José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2020. "Real-time inequality and the welfare state in motion: Evidence from COVID-19 in Spain," Economics Working Papers 1734, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    21. Guido Matias Cortes & Eliza C. Forsythe, 2020. "Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the CARES Act on Earnings and Inequality," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 20-332, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    22. Cerqua, Augusto & Letta, Marco, 2020. "Local economies amidst the COVID-19 crisis in Italy: a tale of diverging trajectories," MPRA Paper 104404, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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