Economic and Workforce Impact of COVID-19 Insights from:

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National Claims since March 2020
Illinois Claims since March 2020

A decade of job gains lost in a matter of weeks, and many not coming back

Post the end of Great Recession, the U.S. economy created 22 million jobs.

In just 5 weeks the U.S. economy lost 26 million jobs.

Source: BLS, Dept. of Labor, Hover Analytics, Deutsche Bank Research

42% of pandemic related layoffs are estimated to be permanent, which equates to 11.6 million jobs.

Source: University of Chicago and BLS

The unemployment-population ratio, the lowest since tracking started in 1948.

Have had both their historic highs and historic lows of unemployment rates in 2020, including IL. 


Employment Rate

In April nearly 90% of people who had lost a job expected to return in 6 months. In September only about half of those who lost jobs did.

IL workers hit with joblessness

From February - May 9th, IL unemployment dropped 19% to below 50%

Previous low 58% during the Great Recession.

Since January 2020 Chicago's employment rate has decreased by 5.9% 

  • -28.7% Employment rate change for low wage workers ($<27k)
  • +1.4% Employment rate change for middle wage workers ($27k-$60k)
  • -3.3% Employment rate change for high wage workers ($>60k)

Source (9/23/20): Opportunity Insights


Chicago's Frontline and Vulnerable Jobs

71.6% of frontline jobs are held by people of color in Chicago; nationally, black workers make up 17% of the frontline workforce

Workers with a Bachelor’s degree or more had nearly fully recovered; those with a HS diploma held 18.3% fewer jobs

Where in Chicago Low-Income Jobs are being Lost

Most Severe Impact on Chicago's South and West Side Neighborhoods

The neighborhoods that have the highest proportion of essential workers with increased health risks are the same neighborhoods that have the highest proportion of workers facing economic risks of continued unemployment and underemployment. These neighborhoods are predominantly on the west side, but there are also high concentrations of at-risk workers on the northwest and south sides of the city.

Workers in labor and customer service occupations are most heavily concentrated on the west side. These workers are more likely to be uninsured than citywide averages, have lower median incomes, and face both health and economic risks due to COVID-19.

Date: 6/23/2020, Source: Urban Labs


Job Loss Variances

Nationally: minority, young, and part-time workers are more likely to be unemployed.

  • Workers without bachelor's degrees are twice as likely to hold vulnerable jobs
  • April Unemployment Rate: 21.2% for individuals with less than a HS diploma
  • Minorities are more likely to hold vulnerable jobs, especially in large cities
  • 25% of the newly unemployed are racial minorities
  • White workers are 37% more likely to hold WFH jobs
  • Younger workers are 35% more likely to hold vulnerable jobs
  • April unemployment rate: 32% for teens
  • Women sustained most of the initial job losses, 59% female
  • April unemployment rate: 16.2% Female  I  13% Male

Individuals in Illinois Most Impacted

The Economic Fallout of COVID-19 has Hit Low-Income Households Harder

Almost 40%

of households earning less than $40,000 a year experienced at least one job loss in March

About 1/3

of households who have lost a job or had their hours cut cannot cover their expenses for the month

Date: May 14, 2020, Source: Federal Reserve, Wall Street Journal


National Labor Demand Based on Job Postings

Chicago's Job Postings

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