Despite Summer Heat, U.S. Shift Work Growth Nearly Frozen

Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report Shows Businesses Again Struggle to Increase Shift Work
August 11, 2020, LOWELL, Mass.

National Overview:

According to the U.S. Workforce Activity Report from Kronos Incorporated for Aug. 3-9, shift work volume1 struggled to grow half a percentage point, increasing only 0.5% week-over-week. Shift volume remains below totals experienced the week ending July 19 – which was the highest volume of activity since hitting “the bottom” the week ending April 12 – while recent average weekly shift growth continues to lag behind what was experienced early in the recovery:

  • May average weekly shift growth: 2.7%
  • June average weekly shift growth: 1.9%
  • July average weekly shift growth: 0.7%
  • Week ending Aug. 2 shift growth: 0.4%
  • Week ending Aug. 9 shift growth: 0.5%

Region Snapshot:

The Northeast2 was the only region to experience a decline during the week ending Aug. 9, with shift volume dropping 0.8% to settle at 15.8% below pre-pandemic shift levels. The Southeast3 experienced strong weekly growth at 2.1% and now sits at 12.5% below mid-March levels, while the West4 increased 1% (down 10.2% overall) and the Midwest5 (down 10.2% overall) increased 0.7%.

Turnover Ratio:

The employee turnover ratio decreased from 2.7:1 to 2:1, but remains disproportionately skewed towards employee terminations6, including voluntary and involuntary turnover, versus employee hiring7. By comparison, during the week ending March 29 – two weeks after the national state of emergency – it reached 3.4:1, indicating 3.4 terminations for every 1 hire. When the economy was at its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020, this ratio was approximately 1:1.

Industry Analysis:

As K-12 school districts begin fall semester operations, public sector recovered another 2% and is now 23% below pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturing; retail, hospitality, and food service; and the services and distribution sector all remain converged at 12% below normal with no measurable week-to-week growth. Healthcare continues to hover at 8% below pre-pandemic shift volume.


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, HCM practice group, Kronos
“Shift volume is struggling to grow even one percentage point per week, further reinforcing that U.S. businesses have downshifted into a slower recovery phase during these typically quiet summer months. Organizations are still trying to generate enough activity to call back all furloughed employees, which has been an arduous process. They will need to work through furloughs before the net-new job creation needed to accelerate the economic recovery can gain traction.”


The Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report delivers near real-time insights into weekly workplace activity and is inclusive of shiftwork and jobs data for 3.2 million employees through Aug. 9, 2020. For more insights about the labor recovery, visit

Supporting Resources

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations — including half of the Fortune 1000® — and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Kronos merged with Ultimate Software on April 1, 2020, to create one of the world’s most innovative HCM and workforce management companies. Visit Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

About Ultimate Software

Ultimate Software is a leading global provider of cloud human capital management (HCM) and employee experience solutions, with more than 51 million people records in the cloud. Ultimate’s award-winning UltiPro delivers HR, payroll, talent, and time and labor management, as well as HR service delivery solutions. Founded in 1990, Ultimate is headquartered in Weston, Florida, and employs more than 6,000 professionals. To learn more, visit Ultimate Software: People First.


Footnote 1: “Shifts worked” is a total derived from aggregated employee time and attendance data and reflects the number of times that employees, especially those who are paid hourly or must be physically present at a workplace to perform their jobs, “clock in” and “clock out” via a time clock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

Footnote 2: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 3: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 4: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Footnote 5: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Footnote 6: “Terminations” is the aggregate number of employee profiles that are deactivated/removed from a Kronos cloud solution, indicating a termination of employment. The cause could be a layoff or resignation, as examples. Termination dates may be pre- or post-dated, creating minor variations in prior week’s data.

Footnote 7: “New hires” is the aggregate number of new employee profiles created inside a Kronos cloud solution. A new employee profile is created when an individual is hired into a position. New hire dates may be pre- or post-dated, creating minor variations in prior week’s data.

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