Social Distancing, Labor Market Outcomes, and Job Characteristics in the COVID-19 Pandemic
47 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020 Last revised: 1 Sep 2020
Date Written: August 12, 2020
This paper investigates the role of job characteristics on an individual's decisions to self-isolate, work, and apply for unemployment insurance in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic. We use data that track millions of mobile devices and their daily movements across physical locations to measure whether the mobile devices leave their homes, or part-time or full-time at work that day, and we also collect data on weekly unemployment insurance claims. We find that the presence of jobs with high work-from-home capacity in a region increases the ability of people to self-isolate and decreases their unemployment risk, whereas the presence of jobs with high physical proximity decreases the incidences of self-isolation and unemployment and increases the incidence of work during the pandemic. These heterogeneous responses based on local job characteristics persist even conditional on a broad set of demographic and socioeconomic variables.
Keywords: work-from-home, physical proximity, social distancing, employment, COVID-19
JEL Classification: J22, E24, R12, J10
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