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Update on "Demographics, Earnings, and Family Characteristics of Workers in Sectors Initially Affected by COVID-19 Shutdowns" (PDF)
Matthew Dey is a research economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mark A. Loewenstein
Mark A. Loewenstein is a senior research economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
David S. Piccone Jr
David S. Piccone Jr is a statistician in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Anne E. Polivka
Anne E. Polivka is a supervisory research economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This note provides a brief update on our article, "Demographics, Earnings, and Family Characteristics of Workers in Sectors Initially Affected by COVID-19 Shutdowns" (Monthly Labor Review, June 2020). In our article we divide the economy into a sector of the economy that is particularly exposed to employment changes because of COVID-19, and one that is not. As discussed in our article, employment in the economy fell sharply between February and April 2020. This note examines what happened between April and May. Our focus for the most part is on the demographic groups that we highlighted in our article, but we also examine the employment experience of blacks between April and May.
Contrary to what a number of forecasters had been predicting, overall employment did not continue to fall between April and May 2020.[i] As can be seen in Table 1, the CPS estimate of overall employment increased by 3.1 percent between April and May. The percentage increase in employment was 2.4 percent in the less vulnerable industries and an especially large 7.9 percent in the industries that we have classified as more highly exposed.[ii] This may well have been due in part to states relaxing shelter in place orders and allowing some businesses to reopen. Increased willingness by some customers to frequent restaurants and other places of business may also have played a role. The same story emerges when one looks at unemployment rates. The overall unemployment rate fell from 14.4 percent to 13.0 percent. In the more highly exposed sector, the unemployment rate fell by 4.1 percentage points compared to 0.9 percentage points in the less exposed sector.
In spite of the partial recovery in May, employment and unemployment were still at distressed levels in May, especially in the more vulnerable sector. As shown in Table 2, the overall unemployment rate was 13.0 percent in May compared to 3.8 percent in February. In the more highly exposed sector, the unemployment rate was 30.0 percent in May compared to 4.5 percent in February. In the remainder of the economy, the comparable figures were 9.4 percent and 3.6 percent. Thus, in May, the unemployment rate was over three times as high in the more exposed sector than in the less exposed sector. In the economy as a whole, employment was 13 percent lower in May than in February. In the more highly and less highly exposed sectors, these numbers were 33 percent and 8 percent, respectively. The percentage reduction in employment between February and May was therefore over four times as large in the more highly exposed sector.
As we showed in our initial article, women, Hispanics and younger workers, were overrepresented in the more highly exposed sector, as well as workers in single parent families. These individuals experienced large employment losses between February and April. In this updated, we examine how these groups fared between April and May. We also highlight the recent experience of blacks who experienced a relatively smaller rebound in employment than whites between April and May.
Between April and May, overall employment of women increased by 3.2 percent and the unemployment rate of women fell 1.4 percentage points. The percentage increase in the employment of men and the change in the male unemployment rate during this time period were both very similar to that of women. However, the 15 percent fall in female employment and the 10.9 percentage point change in the female unemployment rate from February to May both exceeded the corresponding figures for males during that time period. In the more highly exposed sector, female employment increased by 10.5 percent between April and May (compared to 5.8 percent for male employment), but on net between February and May, female employment in the more highly exposed sector fell by 37 percent (compared to 30 percent for males). The unemployment rate of females in the more highly exposed sector fell by 5 percentage points between April and May, but was still a very high 33.3 percent.
Overall Hispanic employment increased by 3.1 percent between April and May and the Hispanic unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points. In the more highly exposed sector, Hispanic employment increased by 2.4 percent and the Hispanic unemployment rate fell by 2 percentage points during this time period. Hispanics in the more highly exposed sector did not fare nearly as well as non-Hispanics, whose employment in the more highly exposed sector increased by 9.3 percent between April and May and whose unemployment rate fell by 4.6 percentage points. Thus, Hispanic employment in the more exposed sector was still 41 percent lower in May than in February and the Hispanic unemployment rate in the more exposed sector was still 36.1 percent.
There was a large 9.5 percentage increase in the overall employment of younger workers ages 16-24 between April and May, but there was also an increase in the number unemployed as more of these workers entered the labor market, with the end result that the unemployment rate of younger workers ages 16-24 only fell by 1.5 percentage points. In the more highly exposed sector, the employment of younger workers increased by 9 percent while the unemployment rate fell by 2.3 percentage points. May employment of workers ages 16-24 in the more highly exposed sector was still 43.5 percent below the February level, and the unemployment rate of these younger workers was still 39.5 percent.
Between April and May, there was a very small increase of 0.2 percent in the estimate of overall employment of individuals aged 25 and older without a high school diploma. However, the unemployment rate of individuals aged 25 and older without a high school diploma fell by 2.4 percentage points, reflecting a substantial reduction in their labor force participation rate. The employment of individuals without a high school diploma in the more highly exposed sector actually fell by 3.5 percent between April and May. In total, the employment of individuals without a high school diploma in the more exposed sector thus fell by 37 percent between February and May. Between April and May, the unemployment rate of individuals without a high school diploma in the more highly exposed sector fell by 1.6 percentage points to 35.1 percent due to the fact that a number of workers in the more highly exposed sector without a high school diploma withdrew from the labor market.
Overall, the employment of workers in single parent families increased by 3.9 percent between April and May and the unemployment rate of workers in single parent families fell by 0.7 percentage points. In the more highly exposed sector, the employment of workers in single parent families increased by 10.4 percent between April and May. However, as a result of the large fall in their employment between February and April, the employment of workers in single parent families in the more highly exposed sector was 42 percent lower in May than in February. The unemployment rate of workers in single parent families in the more highly exposed sector fell by 1.9 percentage points between April and May, but was still 37.5 percent in May.
In the initial stage of the pandemic, the percentage reduction in black employment was only a little larger than that for white employment. Between February and April, overall black employment fell by 17 percent while white employment fell by 15 percent. During this same time period, the 10.1 percentage point increase in the black unemployment rate was actually a little lower than the 10.4 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate for whites. However, the pattern changed the following month. Between April and May, black employment increased by only 1.7 percent, which was less than half the 3.5 percent increase in white employment. As a consequence of their lower employment growth, blacks did not experience the same reduction in their unemployment rate as did whites. While the white unemployment rate fell by 1.7 percentage points, the estimated unemployment rate of blacks increased by 0.2 percentage points.
As can be seen in Table1, the lower employment growth of blacks occurred in the less highly exposed sector of the economy. While white employment in this sector increased by 2.8% between April and May, black employment only increased by 0.7 percent. The lower employment growth for blacks might have occurred for either of two reasons. Black workers might be working in industries that showed less improvement than other industries or, within industries, the share of black workers might have declined. Table 3 sheds light into this question. The first column shows the change in black employment that would have occurred had black employment in each industry grown at the same rate. As the table indicates, black employment would have increased between April and May by about 315,000 in the less highly exposed sector and 155,000 in the more highly exposed sector. Adding these two numbers yields a total increase in the number of jobs for blacks of about 470,000. This employment growth of about 2.9 percent is only slightly less than the 3.1 percent employment growth for the entire economy. The slower recovery of black employment therefore cannot be explained by a differential industry composition of black workers.
The second column in Table 3 shows the change in black employment in each sector corresponding to the change in the share of black employment in that sector. As Table 1 shows, between April and May, black employment in the more highly exposed sector actually grew a little faster than white employment. As indicated in Table 3, this corresponds to an increase in black employment in that sector of about 22,000. In contrast, blacks’ lower employment growth in the less highly exposed sector corresponds to a reduction in black employment of about 210,000. Adding these two numbers yields a job loss of about 188,000 for blacks relative to what employment would have been if black employment share within each industry had remained constant. More than 100% of these losses are accounted for by the less highly exposed sector.
Between April and May employment in the U.S. started to rebound from its precipitous fall between February and May. Employment growth was especially strong in the industries that had been most severely affected at the start of the pandemic. However, employment in May was still far less than employment in February, especially in the more highly exposed sector. The May employment level in the highly exposed sector was 33 percent below the February level, while the May employment level in the less vulnerable sector was 8 percent below the February level.
What was true for the workforce as a whole, was also the case for women, Hispanics and younger workers, demographic groups that are overrepresented in the more highly exposed sector, as well as for workers in single parent families. Between April and May employment of workers in these groups increased in both the more highly exposed sector and the economy as a whole, but employment in May was still far below employment in February. In contrast, there was little rebound in the overall employment of less educated workers without a high school diploma and the employment level of workers without a high school diploma in the more highly exposed sector actually fell by 3.5 percent between April and May. Relative to white workers, black workers fared worse in the period between April and May than in the period between February and April. However, the slower rebound in the employment of blacks occurred in the less highly exposed sector of the economy, where black employment increased by 0.7 percent between April and May compared to 2.8 percent for white employment.
|Worker information||Employment||Unemployment Rate|
|Demographic||Category||Apr||May||Difference||Percent Difference||Apr||May||Difference||Percent Difference|
|All Workers||None||All workers||133,325,808||137,461,048||4,135,240||3.1%||14.4%||13.0%||-1.5 percentage points||-10.1%|
|Age||16 to 24 years old||13,112,044||14,351,721||1,239,677||9.5%||26.9||25.3||-1.5||-5.7%|
|25 to 54 years old||87,909,549||90,146,764||2,237,215||2.5%||12.6||11.2||-1.4||-11.3%|
|55 to 64 years old||23,609,245||24,195,754||586,508||2.5%||12.5||10.9||-1.7||-13.2%|
|65+ years old||8,694,971||8,766,810||71,839||0.8%||15.6||13.2||-2.5||-15.7%|
|Marritial status (25+ year olds)||Married||74,819,947||76,931,747||2,111,800||2.8%||10.9||9.4||-1.5||-13.5%|
|Other marital status||17,554,390||17,786,255||231,865||1.3%||14.8||13.0||-1.8||-12.3%|
|Educational attainment (25+ year olds)||Less than a high school diploma||6,872,495||6,886,794||14,299||0.2%||20.9||18.5||-2.4||-11.5%|
|High school diploma, no college||27,556,750||28,708,418||1,151,668||4.2%||17.0||15.0||-2.1||-12.1%|
|Some college or associate's degree||30,633,663||31,581,430||947,767||3.1%||14.8||12.9||-1.8||-12.2%|
|Bachelor's degree only||33,549,993||33,777,531||227,538||0.7%||9.4||8.4||-1.0||-10.9%|
|Family type||Not a family member||30,179,966||30,335,359||155,393||0.5%||14.4||13.4||-0.9||-6.6%|
|No children family||53,220,784||55,792,148||2,571,363||4.8%||15.1||13.1||-2.0||-13.5%|
|Single parent family||9,591,655||9,965,818||374,163||3.9%||19.8||19.2||-0.7||-3.3%|
|Married with children family||40,333,402||41,367,723||1,034,321||2.6%||12.2||10.9||-1.3||-10.6%|
Highly Exposed Workers
|None||All exposed workers||17,982,024||19,400,082||1,418,058||7.9%||34.1||30.0||-4.1||-12.1%|
|Age||16 to 24 years old||3,537,243||3,857,188||319,946||9.0%||41.8||39.5||-2.3||-5.5%|
|25 to 54 years old||10,637,505||11,357,112||719,606||6.8%||32.2||27.7||-4.5||-13.9%|
|55 to 64 years old||2,613,718||2,936,038||322,319||12.3%||32.2||25.3||-7.0||-21.6%|
|65+ years old||1,193,558||1,249,745||56,187||4.7%||27.7||25.7||-2.0||-7.2%|
|Marritial status (25+ year olds)||Married||8,193,025||8,902,062||709,037||8.7%||28.5||24.1||-4.4||-15.5%|
|Other marital status||2,240,180||2,423,769||183,589||8.2%||34.1||27.5||-6.6||-19.4%|
|Educational attainment (25+ year olds)||Less than a high school diploma||1,113,106||1,073,857||-39,250||-3.5%||36.7||35.1||-1.6||-4.3%|
|High school diploma, no college||4,371,212||4,793,590||422,378||9.7%||35.0||30.8||-4.2||-12.0%|
|Some college or associate's degree||4,365,846||4,857,803||491,957||11.3%||33.1||25.4||-7.6||-23.1%|
|Bachelor's degree only||3,401,036||3,496,871||95,835||2.8%||27.7||24.2||-3.5||-12.5%|
|Family type||Not a family member||4,140,208||4,237,642||97,433||2.4%||34.7||31.4||-3.3||-9.5%|
|No children family||7,360,872||7,916,367||555,495||7.5%||34.4||30.3||-4.1||-11.8%|
|Single parent family||1,554,376||1,715,746||161,371||10.4%||39.4||37.5||-1.9||-4.9%|
|Married with children family||4,926,567||5,530,327||603,760||12.3%||31.2||25.5||-5.7||-18.2%|
Not Highly Exposed Workers
|None||All exposed workers||115,343,785||118,060,966||2,717,181||2.4%||10.3||9.4||-0.9||-8.8%|
|Age||16 to 24 years old||9,574,801||10,494,533||919,731||9.6%||19.2||18.3||-0.9||-4.7%|
|25 to 54 years old||77,272,043||78,789,652||1,517,609||2.0%||9.0||8.2||-0.8||-9.3%|
|55 to 64 years old||20,995,527||21,259,716||264,189||1.3%||9.2||8.4||-0.8||-8.7%|
|65+ years old||7,501,413||7,517,065||15,652||0.2%||13.3||10.7||-2.7||-20.0%|
|Marritial status (25+ year olds)||Married||66,626,922||68,029,685||1,402,763||2.1%||8.1||7.0||-1.0||-12.7%|
|Other marital status||15,314,210||15,362,486||48,276||0.3%||11.0||10.2||-0.9||-7.7%|
|Educational attainment (25+ year olds)||Less than a high school diploma||5,759,389||5,812,938||53,549||0.9%||16.9||14.4||-2.4||-14.4%|
|High school diploma, no college||23,185,538||23,914,828||729,290||3.1%||12.5||10.9||-1.6||-12.6%|
|Some college or associate's degree||26,267,817||26,723,627||455,810||1.7%||10.7||10.2||-0.5||-4.5%|
|Bachelor's degree only||30,148,957||30,280,660||131,702||0.4%||6.8||6.1||-0.6||-9.4%|
|Family type||Not a family member||26,039,758||26,097,718||57,960||0.2%||9.9||9.6||-0.3||-3.4%|
|No children family||45,859,912||47,875,780||2,015,868||4.4%||10.9||9.4||-1.5||-14.2%|
|Single parent family||8,037,279||8,250,072||212,792||2.6%||14.5||13.9||-0.6||-3.9%|
|Married with children family||35,406,835||35,837,396||430,561||1.2%||8.7||8.1||-0.6||-6.4%|
Note: Estimates are not seasonally adjusted.
|Worker information||Employment||Unemployment Rate|
|None||All workers||158,017,404||137,461,048||-20,556,356||-13.0%||3.8%||13.0%||9.2 percentage points||243.0%|
|Age||16 to 24 years old||19,081,546||14,351,721||-4,729,825||-24.8%||8.0||25.3||17.4||217.5%|
|25 to 54 years old||101,151,803||90,146,764||-11,005,040||-10.9%||3.3||11.2||7.9||237.5%|
|55 to 64 years old||26,939,383||24,195,754||-2,743,630||-10.2%||2.6||10.9||8.2||311.2%|
|65+ years old||10,844,671||8,766,810||-2,077,862||-19.2%||3.2||13.2||9.9||308.6%|
|Marritial status (25+ year olds)||Married||83,815,233||76,931,747||-6,883,486||-8.2%||2.2||9.4||7.1||317.6%|
|Other marital status||21,133,775||17,786,255||-3,347,520||-15.8%||4.1||13.0||8.9||216.0%|
|Educational attainment (25+ year olds)||Less than a high school diploma||8,670,067||6,886,794||-1,783,273||-20.6%||7.2||18.5||11.3||157.6%|
|High school diploma, no college||34,793,442||28,708,418||-6,085,024||-17.5%||4.1||15.0||10.9||265.5%|
|Some college or associate's degree||36,061,032||31,581,430||-4,479,602||-12.4%||3.3||12.9||9.6||292.4%|
|Bachelor's degree only||36,792,009||33,777,531||-3,014,478||-8.2%||2.2||8.4||6.2||287.8%|
|Family type||Not a family member||37,390,088||30,335,359||-7,054,729||-18.9%||3.8||13.4||9.6||248.5%|
|No children family||62,524,760||55,792,148||-6,732,613||-10.8%||3.8||13.1||9.3||246.3%|
|Single parent family||12,676,955||9,965,818||-2,711,137||-21.4%||6.4||19.2||12.8||200.6%|
|Married with children family||45,425,601||41,367,723||-4,057,878||-8.9%||3.0||10.9||7.9||263.3%|
Highly Exposed Workers
|None||All exposed workers||29,113,690||19,400,082||-9,713,608||-33.4%||4.5||30.0||25.4||560.4%|
|Age||16 to 24 years old||6,821,739||3,857,188||-2,964,551||-43.5%||7.2||39.5||32.3||445.4%|
|25 to 54 years old||16,630,771||11,357,112||-5,273,660||-31.7%||4.0||27.7||23.7||596.6%|
|55 to 64 years old||4,016,878||2,936,038||-1,080,840||-26.9%||2.9||25.3||22.4||785.3%|
|65+ years old||1,644,301||1,249,745||-394,556||-24.0%||2.6||25.7||23.1||894.6%|
|Marritial status (25+ year olds)||Married||12,119,940||8,902,062||-3,217,878||-26.6%||2.4||24.1||21.8||922.3%|
|Other marital status||3,477,462||2,423,769||-1,053,693||-30.3%||4.3||27.5||23.1||535.3%|
|Educational attainment (25+ year olds)||Less than a high school diploma||1,716,042||1,073,857||-642,186||-37.4%||4.8||35.1||30.3||628.6%|
|High school diploma, no college||7,331,270||4,793,590||-2,537,680||-34.6%||4.2||30.8||26.6||637.0%|
|Some college or associate's degree||6,794,829||4,857,803||-1,937,027||-28.5%||3.5||25.4||21.9||621.1%|
|Bachelor's degree only||4,916,510||3,496,871||-1,419,639||-28.9%||3.0||24.2||21.2||703.8%|
|Family type||Not a family member||7,238,650||4,237,642||-3,001,008||-41.5%||4.1||31.4||27.3||668.2%|
|No children family||11,285,791||7,916,367||-3,369,424||-29.9%||4.8||30.3||25.5||536.8%|
|Single parent family||2,954,695||1,715,746||-1,238,948||-41.9%||7.2||37.5||30.3||421.1%|
|Married with children family||7,634,554||5,530,327||-2,104,227||-27.6%||3.6||25.5||21.9||614.1%|
Not Highly Exposed Workers
|None||All exposed workers||128,903,714||118,060,966||-10,842,749||-8.4%||3.6||9.4||5.8||159.4%|
|Age||16 to 24 years old||12,259,806||10,494,533||-1,765,274||-14.4%||8.4||18.3||9.9||118.3%|
|25 to 54 years old||84,521,032||78,789,652||-5,731,380||-6.8%||3.2||8.2||5.0||156.3%|
|55 to 64 years old||22,922,506||21,259,716||-1,662,790||-7.3%||2.6||8.4||5.8||223.7%|
|65+ years old||9,200,370||7,517,065||-1,683,305||-18.3%||3.3||10.7||7.3||219.7%|
|Marritial status (25+ year olds)||Married||71,695,294||68,029,685||-3,665,609||-5.1%||2.2||7.0||4.8||215.2%|
|Other marital status||17,656,313||15,362,486||-2,293,827||-13.0%||4.1||10.2||6.1||149.7%|
|Educational attainment (25+ year olds)||Less than a high school diploma||6,954,025||5,812,938||-1,141,087||-16.4%||7.7||14.4||6.7||86.4%|
|High school diploma, no college||27,462,172||23,914,828||-3,547,344||-12.9%||4.1||10.9||6.8||167.3%|
|Some college or associate's degree||29,266,203||26,723,627||-2,542,575||-8.7%||3.2||10.2||7.0||214.7%|
|Bachelor's degree only||31,875,499||30,280,660||-1,594,839||-5.0%||2.0||6.1||4.1||201.9%|
|Family type||Not a family member||30,151,439||26,097,718||-4,053,721||-13.4%||3.8||9.6||5.8||152.4%|
|No children family||51,238,969||47,875,780||-3,363,189||-6.6%||3.6||9.4||5.8||163.7%|
|Single parent family||9,722,260||8,250,072||-1,472,189||-15.1%||6.1||13.9||7.8||127.4%|
|Married with children family||37,791,047||35,837,396||-1,953,651||-5.2%||2.9||8.1||5.2||181.4%|
Note: Estimates are not seasonally adjusted.
|Sector||Change due to industry growth (holding black share of industry employment fixed at April levels and allowing industry employment to change from April to May)||Change due to industry composition (holding employment fixed at May levels and allowing black share of industry employment to change from April to May)|
Not highly exposed
Note: Estimates are not seasonally adjusted.