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November 28, 2020

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Perspectives

Pittsburgh Perspectives  

Archive List Link to PEQ
Friday, March 20, 2020  01:05 PM  (31)

Estimated Employment Impacts of COVID19 Business Slowdown - March 2020

The full impact of the economic slowdown induced by the spread of COVID-19 will likely not be known for an extended period of time. But the directive from Pennsylvania state government on March 19 to close all non-life-sustaining business locations across Pennsylvania is directly impacting a large proportion of the business establishments and workers across the Pittsburgh region.  

The state issued an itemized list of industries that would be permitted to remain open at this time. This directive was used here to estimate the employment impact by industry across the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). In total, over 515,000 regional workers, or roughly 46% of the 1.13 million workers in the Pittsburgh region, are estimated to be directly impacted by the closure of non-life-sustaining business locations at this time. The table below itemizes this employment impact by industry within the Pittsburgh region.

Employment categorized as More Impacted reflects the total employment in industries that have been directed to close their business locations. Employment categorized as Less Impacted reflects the remaining employment in each industry. In reality, virtually all regional industries and all local employment is currently being impacted by regional and national economic adjustments caused by COVID-19. These estimates are likely the low end of the range of the cumulative economic impacts for the regional economy of southwestern Pennsylvania at this time. 

Estimated Direct Impact of Business Closures
Pittsburgh MSA, March 2020

Major Industry Group

Estimated % Allowed to Remain Open

Employment September 2019

Employment More Impacted

Employment Less Impacted

Accommodation and Food Services*

39%

98,699

60,206

38,493

Administrative and Waste Services

76%

53,952

12,745

41,207

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

97%

1,181

35

1,146

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

0%

23,870

23,870

0

Construction

0%

64,709

64,709

0

Educational Services

0%

90,171

90,171

0

Finance and Insurance

78%

56,701

12,611

44,090

Health Care and Social Assistance

96%

212,896

8,516

204,380

Information

79%

17,202

3,612

13,590

Management of Companies and Enterprises

0%

37,067

37,067

0

Manufacturing

40%

86,450

51,870

34,580

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

60%

10,761

4,304

6,457

Other Services, Ex. Public Admin

60%

38,059

15,224

22,835

Professional and Technical Services

19%

78,290

63,549

14,741

Public Administration

100%

35,456

0

35,456

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing

22%

14,730

11,509

3,221

Retail Trade

58%

117,292

49,793

67,499

Transportation and Warehousing

99%

49,635

496

49,139

Utilities

100%

8,106

0

8,106

Wholesale Trade

86%

35,936

5,129

30,807

Pittsburgh MSA Total

54%

1,131,163

515,417

615,746

* Modified to account for the closure of in-establishment dining.

This table was compiled from detailed employment data by industry for the 3rd Quarter of 2019, and the detailed guidance promulgated by the state of Pennsylvania. Per the state’s directive of March 19, 2020, the percentage of employment eligible to remain open was estimated for major industry groups.  Certain adjustments were made to the percentages estimated. Within Accommodation and Food Services industries, an estimated 78% of employees worked at establishments that were eligible to remain open. However, the largest employment within this sector includes full-service restaurants, which have been directed to close in-establishment dining in most locations. An assumption was made that half of the workers at establishments in this sector that were eligible to remain open were nonetheless impacted by temporary or permanent layoffs, or shifts to employment at home. These percentages were applied to the total employment in each industry to calculate the total number of employees in the two categories described earlier.

Employment data here was compiled from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) made available via the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis (CWIA). The summary estimates here are impacted by the suppression of certain industry data due to confidentiality restrictions in the data provided by the CWIA. This table also does not estimate the impact of working from home or teleworking that likely has expanded across all industries, to include those not specifically directed to close their business locations. As such, it also does not estimate what percentage of workers are likely to continue receiving pay as a result of these employment shifts.

While a large number of workers being impacted by the business slowdown will continue to receive pay the region can likely expect a significant increase in the number of unemployed workers. While some workers have shifted to working from home with pay, many of the most vulnerable industries will likely be laying off workers without pay. Workers expecting to be recalled from temporary layoff are counted as unemployed whether or not they have engaged in a specific job seeking activity.


This data is an initial estimate of the impact of ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the Pittsburgh region. Ongoing work will include updates to this table and further analysis of indirect and induced economic impacts as they evolve in the future. 




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