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SHRM Releases COVID-19 U.S. Business Index

Initial Findings Show How Employers are Decreasing Hours, Implementing Layoffs, Furloughs to Curb Costs

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 5, 2020 — Today, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and Oxford Economics released a new business index examining COVID-19's impact on U.S. business operations and workforce decisions. The index assists business leaders and government officials in understanding, in near real-time, how employers are grappling with this pandemic-induced economic crisis to balance costs and people.   

Initial findings show how businesses are curbing costs, when businesses expect employees to return to work, and which industries are faring better or worse than others.

The initial COVID-19 Business Index highlights:

  • 52 percent of U.S. employers have either changed employee hours, furloughed or laid off workers to reduce costs;
  • One third of U.S. employers are either still laying off workers or may do so in the future;
  • 64 percent of salaried and 49 percent of hourly employees are now working from home most of the time, compared to 3 and 2 percent on in January.
  • 99 percent of U.S. employers expect furloughed salaried workers to return to work within six months.

(See the Index here.)

"While federal and state governments are seemingly doing all they can to support U.S. businesses, SHRM research shows one third of U.S. employers are still laying off workers and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM president and CEO. "The looming April jobs report will surely reflect this as well. However, there is some sense of optimism from employers about when they expect to bring at least some of those furloughed and laid off employees back to work."

"Two months ago, the dominant challenge facing businesses was finding talent," says Dan Levine, who heads the Oxford Economics Location Strategies practice and was lead researcher on this project. "This report provides fresh insight into how this situation has completely reversed and why weakness in the labor market is deeper and may last longer than is commonly supposed."

The COVID-19 Business Index will be updated on a bi-weekly basis through June 2020, providing workplace stakeholders with a pulse on the state of U.S. businesses during the evolving economic crisis. 

Media: Contact Julie Hirschhorn at and 703-842-5152 or Cooper Nye at and 703-535-6447.

Methodology: Twice each month, a panel of roughly 1,000 HR professionals within the United States are asked a recurring series of questions about their organizational response to the crisis, including changes in employment and shifting HR strategies. This report covers the first iteration of the survey, fielded between April 13 and April 15, 2020, and includes 952 respondents.

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.

About Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics is a global advisory firm providing reports, forecasts, and analytical tools on more than 200 countries, 250 industrial sectors, and 7,000 cities and regions. Our multidisciplinary team is highly skilled in a full range of research techniques from econometric modelling, scenario framing, and economic impact analysis to bespoke Thought Leadership surveys, case studies, and web analytics. Our best-in-class global economic and industry models give us an unparalleled ability to forecast external market trends and assess their impact.



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