Winding Down the Year: 2020 Employment Trends

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

We can hardly believe it’s our last “Let’s Get to Business” Newsletter of the year. Most of us aren’t overly sad about leaving some things behind in 2020, but we’re very grateful that we’re closing out the year with you!

Thank you for helping us serve 11 clients across 8 states, in various industries, diverse Consulting engagements, and stages of business and life, in our first 7.5 months.

We’re looking forward to starting out the year fresh in 2021 with some renewed focus and offerings based on listening to your needs during the year. 🥳🎉

As we round out 2020, we wanted to share some information on COVID-19 trends we found interesting and thought you would too:

To start, here is some information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the Employment Situation:

According to BLS, “In November, 5.0 million workers were classified as employed with a job but not at work” and “Of the 5.0 million employed people not at work during the survey reference week in November 2020, 1.8 million people were included in the “own illness, injury, or medical problems” category. This was higher than the level in October, and almost twice as high as the average of 941,000 for November 2016–2019.” “Other than those who were themselves ill, under quarantine, or self-isolating due to health concerns, most people who did not work during the survey reference week due to efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus should have been, and were, classified as “unemployed on temporary layoff.”

We continue to see the impacts in the workplace of COVID-19 in increased reported cases, reported exposure, reported illnesses of employees and their families, reported cases at schools, and school and daycare closings due to reported cases and exposure as well. Naturally, this then impacts working Parents’ ability to report to work at times. One might think that since many are working from home that this is not as huge of an issue, but it is. Even working Parents teleworking are experiencing pain points around this issue. It is quite plausible nowadays that the dog could eat the homework.

Here you can find a chart of unemployed people by reason. It should be noted that the following categories of unemployed people are excluded from Unemployment information, according to BLS:

Speaking of Unemployment: Is there a difference between a Furlough and a Lay-off? 🤔

According to BLS, “Some people use the terms furlough and layoff interchangeably, and others find them to be distinct. The household survey does not have a formal measure or definition of furlough.”

We definitely believe that the two are separate. One is more finite and affords employees to maintain certain benefits, perks, and other employment components. According to Workest (powered by Zenefits, an HR software, payroll, and services provider supporting Small to Mid-sized Enterprises), here are some distinguishing factors of Furloughs vs Lay-offs:


A furlough reduces hours, days, or weeks employees may work and usually has a finite length.

As mentioned earlier, businesses can furlough employees for specified amounts of time and set the conditions of the furlough. They can require employees to use accumulated paid time off during the furlough, but generally (for cost-saving measures) they notify employees the furlough will consist of unpaid time.”

“In general, Furloughed staffers are still technically employees: They retain their employment rights and generally their benefits. Laid off workers are no longer employees, and lose their benefits and protections.”


“A layoff can be temporary or permanent, with employees frequently uncertain whether or not they will be returning to work. The construction industry, for example, often lays off workers in the winter due to weather conditions with the hopes, but not guarantee, of rehire in the spring.”

“Because there is the potential these employees will not be rehired, workers who are laid off are required to be paid any accumulated paid time off they have earned in their final paycheck. While there are no federal requirements to pay accumulated time off, almost every state mandates employers give these employees any time they’ve earned in a lump sum in their last paycheck.”

Read more from Workest here.

Learn about more BLS data regarding those unable to work because their employer closed or experienced a loss in the business.

We’re grateful for all of the frontline workers who work tirelessly and expose themselves to risk daily on our behalves to keep the rest of us safe. Please thank your friendly Essential Workers next time you see them!

Here are some statistics on a few of those occupations from collected survey data in households in 2019 and 2020 from BLS:

· 12,609 women over 20 years of age worked in Healthcare Support occupations compared to 9,396 men over 20 years of age in the occupation.

· 26,915 workers supporting us in Service Occupations in November 2019, compared to 23,822 in November, 2020. According to BLS, these occupations are comprised of the following categories:

o Healthcare Support

o Protective Service

o Food Preparation and Serving

o Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance

o Personal Care and Service

· 18,679 workers supporting us in Production, Transportation, and Material Moving Occupations in November 2019, compared to18,685 in November, 2020. According to BLS, these occupations are comprised of the following categories:

o Production Occupations

o Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

View the full table here

And some of us work remotely……Click here to see November, 2020 data on the number of teleworkers reported on in the survey.

We’ll see you next month on a new cadence. In 2021, we’ll be releasing on the third Monday of each month.

That being said, see you in a few weeks. 2021 is just around the corner. Happy New Year!

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