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Determinants of Disparities in Covid-19 Job Losses

February 4, 2021

Kuala Lumpur Research Seminar Series

  • We make several contributions to understanding the socio-demographic ramifications of the COVID-19 epidemic and policy responses on employment outcomes of subgroups in the U.S., benchmarked against two previous recessions. First, monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) data show greater declines in employment in April and May 2020 (relative to February) for Hispanics, younger workers, and those with high school degrees and some college. Between April and May, all the demographic subgroups considered regained some employment. Reemployment in May was broadly proportional to the employment drop that occurred through April, except for Blacks. Second, we show that job loss was larger in occupations that require more interpersonal contact and that cannot be performed remotely. Third, we show that the extent to which workers in various demographic groups sort (pre-COVID-19) into occupations and industries can explain a sizeable portion of the gender, race, and ethnic gaps in recent unemployment. However, there remain substantial unexplained differences in employment losses across groups. We also demonstrate the importance of tracking workers who report having a job but are absent from work, in addition to tracking employed and unemployed workers. We conclude with a discussion of policy priorities and future research needs implied by the disparities in labor market losses from the COVID-19 crisis that we identify.

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    Presentation Slides

  • Dr. Kosali Simon is Herman Wells Endowed Professor and Associate Vice Provost for Health Sciences at Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana, US, where she is faculty in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the #1 ranked US school of public affairs. She is an experienced health economist studying health insurance reform, the causes and consequences of the opioid crisis, and now, the impact of COVID-19 policy on economic activity and on non-COVID19 healthcare seeking. See here for a recent news coverage of this work. She is also active in national leadership roles in her profession, including being Editor for the Journal of Health Economics, co-editor of Journal of Human Resources, Vice President of Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). She lived in Sri Lanka and Zambia before moving to the U.S.


  • WHEN (KUALA LUMPUR TIME): Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 9:00 -10:00am Kuala Lumpur time
  • WHEN (ET/WASHINGTON, D.C. TIME): Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 8:00 – 9:00pm
  • WATCH: Watch Recording