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Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, Compensation, and Occupational Requirements Statistics

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting daily life for the entire country. The President declared a national emergency in the United States on March 13, 2020.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is open for business and is continuing to assess how this national emergency affects our operations and data products. How COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts may affect key economic indicators produced by BLS will depend, in part, on efforts taken by our various data partners. We have provided information below about our programs and will continue to update this information to keep you informed.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) publishes estimates of incidence rates and counts of workplace injuries and illnesses. It also provides detailed case and demographic data for cases that involve one or more days away from work and for days of job transfer and restriction for select industries. The news release for 2019 data is scheduled for November 4, 2020.

  • Will data collection for SOII be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? SOII data are collected through various means, though primarily electronically through the BLS Internet Data Collection Facility. SOII data collection through the facility continues. Data collection, however, may be affected both by the availability of data collection staff and of survey respondents.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) publishes a complete count of work-related fatal injuries and descriptive data on their circumstances. The CFOI news release for 2019 data is scheduled for December 16, 2020.

  1. Will data collection for CFOI be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? CFOI uses a variety of data sources to identify and substantiate fatal work injuries. (See the Handbook of Methods section on data sources.) CFOI is still collecting and reviewing available data sources. Data collection, however, may be affected both by the availability of data collection staff and data sources.
  2. Will BLS attempt to capture COVID-19 cases for CFOI in 2020? BLS is working to finalize the CFOI data collection for 2019, which it will publish in December 2020. BLS simultaneously is collecting new CFOI cases for 2020 that it will publish in late 2021. Currently, lack of uniform information on COVID-19 cases from source documents will prevent consistent coding and measurement of these cases.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Employment Cost Index

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is produced from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS is an establishment-based survey that provides comprehensive measures of (1) employer costs for employee compensation, including wages and salaries and benefits, (2) compensation trends, and (3) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans. The June 2020 ECI was released on July 31, 2020.

  1. How are compensation costs calculated for absent workers? The ECI is intended to indicate how the average compensation costs to employers change over time if the industrial and occupational composition of employment had not changed from the base period. Costs are collected for the pay period that includes the 12th of March, June, September, and December. The costs for workers temporarily absent are included in the ECI.
  2. Will data collection for ECI be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? The ECI data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time.

    Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period. See the historical response rates for the ECI. Response rates were comparable in June 2020 to the March 2020 release.
    Table 1. Response rates for usable data eligible for collection
    Compensation component December 2019 March 2020 June 2020

    Wages and salaries

    86.0% 79.5% 80.0%

    Benefits

    95.3% 95.9% 95.8%
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECI estimates? The primary goal for the ECI is, as always, to provide accurate estimates of the change in the cost of total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECI estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy. Comparisons of compensation cost changes for a specific reference period against those of recent periods may provide a general indication of the impacts to the ECI.

    BLS publishes measures of reliability along with not seasonally adjusted 3-month and 12-month percent changes. See Technical Information about Standard Errors for Employment Cost Index Estimates and the database query tools. The percentage of standard errors (3-month percent change) less than 0.3 in June 2020 decreased from those estimated in March 2020.
    Table 2. Percentage of standard errors (3-month percent change) less than 0.3
    Compensation component December 2019 March 2020 June 2020

    Total compensation

    99.2% 89.4% 84.8%

    Wages and salaries

    97.7% 87.1% 79.5%

    Benefits

    100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  4. How will COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts affect seasonally adjusted estimates? The seasonal factors for 2020 are based on exhibited seasonality for estimates over the past 10 years. Seasonal factors for 2020 are not affected by COVID-19. See Employment Cost Index: Annual seasonal adjustment process.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation is produced from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS is an establishment-based survey that provides comprehensive measures of (1) employer costs for employee compensation, including wages and salaries and benefits, (2) compensation trends, and (3) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans. The March 2020 ECEC is scheduled for release on June 18, 2020.

  1. How are compensation costs calculated for absent workers? The ECEC provides compensation costs per employee hour worked for all workers within selected jobs. Costs are collected for the pay period that includes the 12th of March, June, September, and December. The costs for workers temporarily absent are included in the ECEC. 
  2. Will data collection for ECEC be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? The ECEC data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECEC estimates? The primary goal for the ECEC is, as always, to provide accurate estimates of the cost of total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECEC estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, including impacts from employment, changes in hours worked, and industry and occupational composition in the national economy.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Occupational Requirements Survey

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is an establishment-based survey that provides job-related information regarding physical demands; environmental conditions; cognitive and mental demands; and education, training, and experience requirements for jobs in the U.S. economy. The 2019 reference year ORS estimates are scheduled for release on May 28, 2020.

  1. How are job requirements calculated for absent workers? The ORS is collected by field economists speaking with survey respondents to determine the requirements of jobs and not individual workers. Estimates reflect all workers in selected jobs and are weighted to represent the national economy, as described in the calculation section of the Handbook of Methods.
  2. Will data collection for ORS be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? The current collection period runs from September 2019 through July 31, 2020. Collecting job requirements from closed establishments, remote workers, and essential businesses may be difficult. While field economists rely on a variety of collection methods, personal visits have been suspended at this time.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response on ORS estimates? For the 2019 reference year estimates, data were collected from September 2018 through July 2019. These estimates are not affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts. The primary goal for the ORS is, as always, to provide accurate estimates of job requirements. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on future estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, including impacts from employment, changes in hours worked, and industry and occupational composition in the national economy.

Last Modified Date: July 31, 2020