We use WARN data to assess layoffs in four Midwestern states during the current pandemic-induced recession—Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The data come from the advance layoff notices filed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. We find that the number of workers affected by layoff announcements rose sharply in the second half of March and April, and unexpected changes in economic conditions meant that workers received little advance notice before layoff. Layoff announcements have affected workers across these four states, and workers in mining and leisure and hospitality have been affected the most. Most recently, the number of workers affected by WARN notices has almost returned to prerecession levels.
Various measures of the labor-market skills of foreign-born workers have improved during the past decade. The largest gains are concentrated among immigrants from Mexico, who traditionally have shown the lowest skill levels among foreign-born workers. The data suggest that the apparent increase in skills is the result of a shift in the distribution of immigrants coming to the United States, with increased immigration of workers from Asia and a precipitous decline in immigration of workers from Mexico.
We know that the COVID-19 deaths were disproportionate across age groups. And some research has suggested the virus affects individuals differently, inviting comparisons across other demographic groups. Our researchers argue that failing to adjust for age among such comparisons may lead to incorrect conclusions.
With economic conditions changing so rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the standard layoff indicators that policymakers and analysts use are falling short. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act data—a more timely indicator—reveal four findings about job loss during this pandemic.