Discussion Paper

Which Workers Bear the Burden of Social Distancing Policies?


Abstract: In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, nearly all U.S. states imposed social distancing policies to combat the spread of illness. To the extent that work can be done from home, some workers moved their offices to their abodes. Others, however, are unable to continue working as their usual tasks require a specific location or environment, or involve close proximity to others. Which types of jobs cannot be done from home and which types of jobs require close personal proximity to others? What share of overall U.S. employment falls in these categories? And, given that these jobs will be the most adversely affected, what are the characteristics of workers employed in these jobs? The final question is of particular importance as the government designs and implements policies aimed at helping the workers hardest hit by the pandemic.

Keywords: employment; COVID-19; diversity; occupations; flexible work arrangements; demographics; social policy; coronavirus;

JEL Classification: J01;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Liberty Street Economics

Publication Date: 2020-05-29

Number: 20200529b