U.S. Shift Work Growth Curve Flattens, Breaking Three Month Streak of Gains

Rising COVID-19 Cases Force Some Regions to Slow or Reverse Reopenings as Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report Watches for Potential Plateau in Economic Recovery
July 14, 2020, LOWELL, Mass.

National Overview:

Following nearly three months of steady, consistent shift work1 growth, the U.S. economic recovery from COVID-19 experienced a significant setback last week,  according to the U.S. Workforce Activity Report from Kronos Incorporated. Based on data from 3.2 million employees, the largest and most comprehensive near real-time sample of workplace activity, the total volume of shifts worked from July 6-12 declined 0.5%. While modest, this marks the first non-holiday week to experience contracting shift work activity since the recovery began in earnest the week ending April 12. While it may be a carry-over from last week’s expected decline related to the July 4th holiday, it also correlates with the rise in new COVID-19 cases that has prompted 22 states to either pause or reverse their reopening plans. Businesses have recovered just 58% of shifts lost in the initial weeks of the pandemic.

State Snapshot:

While shift work increased in Northeast2 states such as Connecticut (6.7%), Massachusetts (2.4%), and New Jersey (4.9%) between June 22 and July 12, many Southeast 3 states experienced the opposite trend, as Florida (-1.7%), Georgia (-4.8%), Louisiana (-0.3%), and South Carolina (-4%) watched shift work decrease during the same period. Shift work in Arizona increased 1.4% in that window despite increasing COVID-19 cases, while the recovery appears to be stalling in California (-1%), Nevada (-0.4%), and Texas (-1.1%).

Job Growth:

Employee terminations4, including voluntary and involuntary turnover, and job creation as measured by new employee hiring5 sits at a ratio of 2.4:1, as U.S. businesses continue to shed headcount faster than they are hiring. By comparison, in February 2020, this ratio stood at nearly 1 termination for every 1 new hire. It then peaked at 3.4:1 the week ending March 29, just one week after the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out under 19,000.

Industry Analysis:

The U.S. Workforce Activity Report tracks five industries central to the U.S. economy, each of which are still fighting to return to pre-pandemic workplace activity, including healthcare (down 9%). Despite initially being impacted to differing degrees, retail, food service, and hospitality, the services sector, and manufacturing have converged to each stand approximately 15% below pre-pandemic shift volume. Public Sector, which often slows during the summer months in part due to education, has recovered 53% of the shifts lost during the pandemic but remains down by nearly a third (32%) overall.


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, HCM practice group, Kronos
“The U.S. is flattening the curve – but it’s the wrong curve. COVID-19 cases are rising in many states, prompting reopening plans to be paused and even rolled back, leading to what may be the first signs of a plateau in workplace activity growth. Following the decelerating shift growth witnessed in June, the next several weeks will be vital to understanding whether this step back is an extension of the July 4th holiday or the emergence of a concerning trend.”


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 July 12, 2020. Visit www.kronos.com/USWorkforceActivity to view the complete report archive.

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 www.kronos.com. 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 www.ultimatesoftware.com. 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: “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 5: “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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