Heterogeneous Labor Market Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guido Matias Cortes, Eliza Forsythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors study the distributional consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on employment, both during the onset of the pandemic and over subsequent months. Using cross-sectional and matched longitudinal data from the Current Population Survey, they show that the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities. Although employment losses have been widespread, they have been substantially larger—and more persistent—in lower-paying occupations and industries. Hispanics and non-White workers suffered larger increases in job losses, not only because of their over-representation in lower-paying jobs but also because of a disproportionate increase in their job displacement probability relative to non-Hispanic White workers with the same job background. Gaps in year-on-year job displacement probabilities between Black and White workers have widened over the course of the pandemic recession, both overall and conditional on pre-displacement occupation and industry. These gaps are not explained by state-level differences in the severity of the pandemic nor by the associated response in terms of mitigation policies. In addition, evidence suggests that older workers have been retiring at faster rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-55
Number of pages26
JournalILR Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • COVID-19
  • job loss
  • labor market flows
  • occupations and industries
  • wage inequality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy and Management


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