Daily Effect of COVID-19 on Hourly Workers at Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Editor’s note: This research project culminated in a working paper that can be viewed here: Measuring the labor market at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis

This collaborative research project is equipping policymakers with more timely snapshots of how workers at small and medium-sized businesses throughout the country are being impacted by COVID-19. While most labor data sources lag by at least a few weeks, data from Homebase, a scheduling and time clock software company, is updated on a daily basis, allowing researchers to provide rapid response analysis. The researchers are from the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the University of Chicago Poverty Lab at the Harris School of Public Policy, as well as the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the California Policy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers are analyzing daily timecard data for nearly 40,000 small businesses in the United States, tracking changes in hours worked before and after the COVID-19 crisis began. They will post frequent updates to measure how the impact is spreading across the country, geographically and by industry, and how it evolves in response to state and local social distancing guidelines and orders.

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