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Effects of Social Distancing Policy on Labor Market Outcomes

Author

Listed:
  • Sumedha Gupta
  • Laura Montenovo
  • Thuy D. Nguyen
  • Felipe Lozano Rojas
  • Ian M. Schmutte
  • Kosali I. Simon
  • Bruce A. Weinberg
  • Coady Wing

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the social distancing policies states adopted between March and April of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. These actions, together with voluntary social distancing, appear to have reduced the rate of new COVID-19 cases and deaths, but raised concerns about the costs experienced by workers and businesses. Estimates from difference-in-difference models that leverage cross-state variation in the timing of business closures and stay-at-home mandates suggest that the employment rate fell by about 1.7 percentage points for every extra 10 days that a state experienced a stay-at-home mandate during the period March 12-April 12, 2020; select business closure laws were associated with similar employment effects. Our estimates imply that about 40% of the 12 percentage point decline in employment rates between January and April 2020 was due to a nationwide shock while about 60% was driven by state social distancing policies. The negative employment effects of state policies were larger for workers in "non-essential" industries, workers without a college degree, and early-career workers. Policy caused relatively modest changes in hours worked and earnings among those who remain employed. We find no concerning evidence of pre-trends in the monthly (low-frequency) CPS data, but use high-frequency data on work-related mobility measured from cellphones, job-loss-related internet searches, and initial unemployment claims to investigate the possibility that the large employment effects experienced in April could have occurred after the March CPS but but before policy adoption. In those analyses, we find pre-trends for some outcomes but not others. Thus we cannot fully rule out that some employment effects shortly predated the policies. As states relax business closures, ensuring gains in labor market activities in ways that continue to mitigate COVID-19 "surges" and public health risks will be key considerations to monitor.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumedha Gupta & Laura Montenovo & Thuy D. Nguyen & Felipe Lozano Rojas & Ian M. Schmutte & Kosali I. Simon & Bruce A. Weinberg & Coady Wing, 2020. "Effects of Social Distancing Policy on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 27280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27280
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Coibion, Olivier & Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Weber, Michael, 2020. "Labor Markets During the Covid-19 Crisis: A Preliminary View," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7rx7t91p, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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    7. Sumedha Gupta & Thuy D. Nguyen & Felipe Lozano Rojas & Shyam Raman & Byungkyu Lee & Ana Bento & Kosali I. Simon & Coady Wing, 2020. "Tracking Public and Private Responses to the COVID-19 Epidemic: Evidence from State and Local Government Actions," NBER Working Papers 27027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. Faria-e-Castro, Miguel, 2021. "Fiscal policy during a pandemic," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Economic consequences > Employment and Work

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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. 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).
    3. Robert J. R. Elliott & Ingmar Schumacher & Cees Withagen, 2020. "Suggestions for a Covid-19 Post-Pandemic Research Agenda in Environmental Economics," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(4), pages 1187-1213, August.
    4. Blau, Francine D. & Koebe, Josefine & Meyerhofer, Pamela, 2020. "Who are the Essential and Frontline Workers?," IZA Discussion Papers 13650, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Arthi, Vellore & Parman, John, 2021. "Disease, downturns, and wellbeing: Economic history and the long-run impacts of COVID-19," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Bodenstein, M. & Corsetti, G. & Guerrieri, L., 2021. "Economic and Epidemiological Effects of Mandated and Spontaneous Social Distancing," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2117, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Brodeur, Abel & Haddad, Joanne & Mikola, Derek, 2020. "Covid-19, Family Stress and Domestic Violence: Remote Work, Isolation and Bargaining Power," GLO Discussion Paper Series 571, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    8. Goolsbee, Austan & Syverson, Chad, 2021. "Fear, lockdown, and diversion: Comparing drivers of pandemic economic decline 2020," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    9. Yannick Fosso Djoumessi & Fosso Yannick, 2020. "The Adverse Impact of the Covid-19 on Labor Market in Cameroon [L'impact négatif du Covid-19 sur le marché du travail au Cameroun]," Working Papers hal-02917816, HAL.
    10. Alexander W. Bartik & Marianne Bertrand & Feng Lin & Jesse Rothstein & Matt Unrath, 2020. "Measuring the labor market at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis," NBER Working Papers 27613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Marcén, Miriam & Morales, Marina & Sevilla, Almudena, 2020. "COVID-19 School Closures and Parental Labor Supply in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 13827, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Andreas Loschel & Michael Price & Laura Razzolini & Madeline Werthschulte, 2020. "Negative income shocks and the support of environmental policies - Insights from the COVID-19 pandemic," Framed Field Experiments 00710, The Field Experiments Website.
    13. Daniel Goller & Stefan C. Wolter, 2021. ""Too shocked to search" The COVID-19 shutdowns' impact on the search for apprenticeships," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0182, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    14. Marcén, Miriam & Morales, Marina, 2020. "The intensity of COVID-19 Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and labor market outcomes in the public sector," GLO Discussion Paper Series 637, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    15. Shatakshee Dhongde, 2020. "Multidimensional economic deprivation during the coronavirus pandemic: Early evidence from the United States," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(12), pages 1-15, December.
    16. Dreger, Christian & Gros, Daniel, 2021. "Lockdowns and the US Unemployment Crisis," IZA Policy Papers 170, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Lea Immel & Florian Neumeier & Andreas Peichl, 2021. "The Unequal Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic: Evidence from a Large Representative German Population Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 9038, CESifo.
    18. Finamor, Lucas & Scott, Dana, 2021. "Labor market trends and unemployment insurance generosity during the pandemic," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 199(C).
    19. 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).
    20. Sumedha Gupta & Kosali I. Simon & Coady Wing, 2020. "Mandated and Voluntary Social Distancing During The COVID-19 Epidemic: A Review," NBER Working Papers 28139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Bartik, Alexander & Bertrand, Marianne & Lin, Feng & Rothstein, Jesse & Unrath, Matthew, 2020. "Measuring the labor market at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt15k6d98m, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    22. Alexander W. Bartik & Marianne Bertrand & Feng Lin & Jesse Rothstein & Matt Unrath, 2020. "Measuring the Labor Market at the Onset of the COVID-19 Crisis," Working Papers 2020-83, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    23. Altindag, Onur & Erten, Bilge & Keskin, Pinar, 2021. "Mental Health Costs of Lockdowns: Evidence from Age-Specific Curfews in Turkey," IZA Discussion Papers 14281, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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