November UKG Workforce Activity Report: Smaller Businesses Lose Shifts

For the first time since April, shift work contracted in key U.S. business segments
December 1, 2020, LOWELL, Mass. and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:

According to the November 2020 Workforce Activity Report from UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees experienced shrinking shift work1 volume over the last month2. This is the first time since April that shift work has contracted in key business segments.

Businesses with under 100 employees worked 0.4% fewer shifts in November than October, while those with 101-500 employees worked 0.7% fewer shifts over the same period. Larger businesses with more than 5,000 employees were the primary driver of shift growth, experiencing a 4.6% monthly increase.

Nationally, shift growth for the month registered a mere 0.1%. When focusing on the mid-month reference week used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure monthly employment gains, shift work contracted 0.2% nationally.

Industry Analysis:

Total November shift trends by industry:

  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: 2% growth
  • Services and distribution: 0.6% growth
  • Manufacturing: 0.1% growth
  • Healthcare: -0.8% contraction
  • Public sector: -1.8% contraction

Region Snapshot:

Shift work volume declined in two out of four U.S. regions:

  • Northeast3: -0.4% contraction in November
  • Midwest4: -0.4% contraction in November
  • West5: 0.5% growth in November
  • Southeast6: 1.1% growth in November

Recovery Scale:

The UKG Workforce Recovery Scale—a measure of shift work losses and gains during the COVID-19 pandemic—sits at 87.1. It also sat at 87.1 in September, meaning there has been no meaningful improvement in shift work volume over the last 90 days. By contrast, the Workforce Recovery Scale bottomed out at 66.6 in April.  


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) 
“November represents a significant setback in the effort to help millions of Americans get back to work. It’s alarming to see smaller businesses—those with between 5 and 500 employees—experience outright contraction. The modest 0.1% shift work growth overall that we are witnessing is buoyed by the largest businesses—those with more than 5,000 employees. This is not the news that business owners, employees, and those still searching for regular work had been hoping for as we head into colder winter months when outdoor activities will be more limited.”


The UKG Workforce Activity Report analyzes high frequency shift data spanning 3.2 million employees across 30,000 businesses to understand weekly trends. It is current as of November 29, 2020. For more insights, visit

Supporting Resources

About UKG

At UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), our purpose is people. Built from a merger that created one of the largest cloud companies in the world, UKG believes organizations succeed when they focus on their people. As a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, UKG delivers award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions to help tens of thousands of organizations across geographies and in every industry drive better business outcomes, improve HR effectiveness, streamline the payroll process, and help make work a better, more connected experience for everyone. UKG has more than 12,000 employees around the globe and is known for inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. To learn more, visit


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: November 2020 is defined as the week ending October 25 through the week ending November 22. The week ending November 28 is excluded due to the significant and expected impact the Thanksgiving holiday has on shift work annually.

Footnote 3: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 4: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Footnote 5: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Footnote 6: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

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