UKG Workforce Activity Report: Shift Work Growth Slows in October Amid Uncertain Future

November 3, 2020, LOWELL, Mass. and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:

According to the October 2020 Workforce Activity Report from UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), monthly shift1 growth slowed from 3.3% in both August and September to only 0.8% for the month of October2.

Business Size:

In October, shift activity increased a mere 0.1% for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. In contrast, at businesses with more than 5,000 employees, shift activity increased 3.7%. October marks the fourth straight month where bigger businesses experienced higher shift activity growth than the smallest businesses.

Industry Analysis:

Total October shift trend changes by industry:

  • Services and distribution: 2% growth
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: 1% growth
  • Public sector: 0.8% growth
  • Healthcare: -0.4% contraction
  • Manufacturing: -1.7% contraction

Region Snapshot:

The Northeast experienced strong gains while the West declined:

  • Northeast3: 1.8% growth in October
  • Southeast4: 1.3% growth in October
  • Midwest5: 0.6% growth in October
  • West6: -0.7% contraction in October

Recovery Scale:

The Workforce Recovery Scale—a measure of shift work loses and gains during the COVID-19 pandemic—increased 0.7 points, from a score of 87.1 in September to 87.8 in October. By contrast, it bottomed out in April at 66.6. 


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, strategy and operations, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) 
“By our estimation, as many as 10% of businesses with fewer than 100 employees have gone out of business since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tremendous uncertainty created by the current surge of the virus has prompted businesses that are open to proceed with extreme caution as they rethink growth and hiring for both today and tomorrow.”


The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high frequency dataset analyzing week-by-week shift trends for 3.2 million employees across 30,000 businesses. It is current as of November 1, 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’s award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions 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 its inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for its 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: October 2020 is defined as the week ending October 4 through the week ending November 1.

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

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.

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