The coronavirus pandemic will hurt 57 million US workers, more than double the number of jobless claims so far, once temporary layoffs and reduced hours and wages are included, according to McKinsey & Co.
The more than 26 million people who have applied for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks provide only a partial picture of dislocations in the workforce, and tens of millions more face additional risks, according to a report by economists, including Susan Lund of McKinsey Global Institute, the consulting expert group.
The first wave of jobless claims in mid-March hit the food, entertainment and hospitality industries disproportionately. Since then, the disorders have affected categories including retail, business services, manufacturing, and nonessential health care.RELATED
There is a significant overlap between workers vulnerable to the virus and those whose jobs were already at risk from automation, posing a challenge for the United States to reorient at-risk employees for more sustainable job opportunities.
Low-wage, part-time, and minority workers are most likely to suffer the impact of the pandemic, and 74% of at-risk jobs pay less than $ 40,000 a year, according to McKinsey’s analysis. But the number of full-time and office jobs affected is increasing, and 16% of workers in distress earn more than $ 70,000 a year.
“It really is the people who generally have the lowest wages, the least education, and the least prepared to endure a period of unemployment who are most at risk,” Lund said in a telephone interview.
Education is the strongest demographic predictor of vulnerability, as people without bachelor’s degrees are twice as likely to fill those positions.
Businesses can help by reducing hours and temporarily suspending workers instead of firing them, McKinsey said. They should also offer more flexibility to parents working from home and find ways to reconfigure office spaces to avoid a new wave of the virus. Labor agencies in different states can help provide training and education opportunities for the unemployed, McKinsey said.