New Cornell-JQI-RIWI Survey Questions the True, Real-Time U.S. Jobs Picture on the Eve of the Election

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New data reveals the real-time jobs picture is worse than lagging mainstream jobs data indicate.

Real-time data collected by RIWI from August 14 to September 27, 2020, under the auspices of the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI®) and Cornell Law School Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Daniel Alpert, has demonstrated that the real-time jobs picture is worse than lagging mainstream jobs data indicate. These data show that a second round of layoffs is well underway and workers face increased job insecurity as many were being paid but not actually working, have again been laid off, or have been told they could be laid off. The data also show that, in addition to being disproportionately impacted by COVID, Black and Latino workers are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the second wave of layoffs.

The survey follows a August 4th joint report, which showed that almost a third of Americans who had been laid off and then put back on payroll had been laid off again by early August.

Of particular note, the survey determined:

  • Of workers who were put back on payroll after being initially laid off as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, 27 percent reported in August/September that they have been laid off a second time, and another 36 percent have been told by their employer that they may be laid off again.
  • Nearly 40 percent of those initially laid off reported being put back on payroll by August/September, but one-quarter of such respondents say they were not asked to return to work.
  • In addition to being disproportionately impacted by COVID, Black and Latino workers are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the second wave of layoffs, with 34% of Latino workers and 31% of Black workers reported being laid off again compared to 25% of White workers over the July 23-September 27 time period.

RIWI randomly engaged a total of 5,897 U.S. respondents aged 16+ from August 14-September 27 on a continuous 24/7 basis with questions to determine who held a private-sector job, which share of those were laid off, which share of those were re-payrolled, and then in turn which share was laid off or told they might be laid off. Data collection for the earlier, August 4 report spanned July 23-August 1, 2020. In addition to these data specific to layoff risk, RIWI also randomly engages over 2,500 U.S. respondents aged 16+ monthly on their employment status 24/7 on an ongoing basis, with a historic data stream against which we compared our findings.

Read the full report, including methodology and accompanying graphs, here.

About RIWI:
RIWI stands for “real-time interactive world-wide intelligence”. The company provides access to continuous consumer and citizen sentiment in all countries. RIWI breaks through the noise to find the truth about what people really think, want and observe – by reaching the most diverse audiences, including the disengaged and quiet voices who do not typically answer surveys or express their views on social media. RIWI technology rapidly collects data in every country around the world and displays the results in a secure interactive dashboard in real-time. RIWI only collects anonymous information: 229 countries and territories, over 80 languages and 1.6 billion interviewees and counting.

About the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index:
The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI) assesses job quality in the United States by measuring desirable higher-wage/higher-hour jobs versus lower-wage/lower-hour jobs. The JQI results also may serve as a proxy for the overall health of the U.S. jobs market, since the index enables month-by-month tracking of the direction and degree of change in high-to-low job composition. By tracking this information – and other alternative measures developed by the JQI team – policymakers and financial market participants can be more fully informed of past developments, current trends, and likely future developments in the absence of policy intervention. Economists and international organizations have in recent years developed other, complementary conceptions of job quality such as those addressing the emotional satisfaction employees derive from their jobs. For the purposes of this JQI, “job quality” means the weekly dollar-income a job generates for an employee. Payment, after all, is a primary reason why people work: the income generated by a job being necessary to maintain a standard of living, to provide for the essentials of life and, hopefully, to save for retirement, among other things.

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Elise Perkins
Rally Point Media Strategies
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Rebecca Valli
Cornell University
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