As States Reopen, Have Businesses Followed Suit?

Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report Finds Sixth Straight Week of Modest Shift-work Growth
May 27, 2020, LOWELL, Mass.

National Overview:

Kronos Incorporated today issued its update on U.S. workforce activity for the week of May 18-24, 2020. According to the report, which analyzes aggregated and anonymized weekly data from approximately 30,000 businesses with 3.2 million employees, total shifts worked1 increased modestly for the sixth consecutive week.

Employee shifts worked are now up 17% since week ending April 12, which appears to represent “the bottom” of workplace activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the overall volume of shifts worked remains down 24% between the weeks ending March 15 and May 24, meaning one out of every four shifts worked prior to the pandemic has yet to return.

State Analysis:

Since the week ending March 15, when the U.S. declared a national state of emergency, Rhode Island (-62.9%), Nevada (-53.6%), and Connecticut (-50.7%) remain the three states hit hardest by declines in employee shift work. Sixteen states still measure declines in shift work above 30%, compared to 25 states for the week ending May 3, signaling a gradual stabilization may be continuing.

In Georgia, shifts worked are up 41% since businesses began reopening April 24, while Massachusetts experienced a 4% week-over-week increase since reopening May 18. Shift growth in Washington State, the first state to issue an emergency declaration, appears to have plateaued with less than 1% growth over the last three weeks despite still being down 23% compared to pre-pandemic norms.

Industry Analysis:

Measured nationally, industry-specific activity improved week-over-week, but remains down from week ending March 15: public sector (-42%), services and distribution (-29%), retail, hospitality, and food service (-24%), manufacturing (-23%), and healthcare (-11%.)

Job Growth:

Employee terminations2 appear to have peaked, as the rate of separations are down 17% since week ending April 19. However, hiring3 remains stalled, down 39% since week ending March 15. Employee pay statements4 are down just 6% since the beginning of the pandemic.


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, HCM practice group, Kronos
“With every state now executing their reopening strategy, it’s encouraging to see six consecutive weeks of shift volume growth. However, Memorial Day annually brings a natural downshift in overall workplace activity: we expect this year to be no different despite the unprecedented circumstances. It will take several more weeks to determine if this growth will be sustained, plateau, or take a step back.”


The Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report provides near real-time insights into workplace activity for the immediate preceding week. The report is currently analyzed and released weekly and inclusive of data through May 24. Reports are available at

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: “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 3: “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.

Footnote 4: “Pay statements” reflect the number of payroll checks generated each week, including both direct deposit transfers and physical checks.

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