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The country’s 12 largest employers have laid off thousands during the pandemic


The nation’s largest employers have collectively laid off more than 100,000 workers during the pandemic, according to a report released Tuesday by a House subcommittee.

Hourly workers have been particularly hard hit. Not only were they more likely to be fired in 2019, 2020 and 2021 than salaried employees, but they were also more likely to quit and less likely to be promoted, congressional investigators found. The phenomenon has disproportionately affected women, workers of color and older workers.

The findings are part of a staff report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which details inequities in staffing at 12 major companies: AT&T, Berkshire Hathaway, Boeing, Chevron, Cisco, Citigroup, Comcast, ExxonMobil, Oracle, Selling power, walmart and the Walt Disney Co.. None of the companies immediately responded when contacted for comment.

“Today’s report demonstrates that the inequalities seen during this crisis are deeply rooted in our economy and have persisted throughout the pandemic,” said Rep. James Clyburn, DS.C., chair of the subcommittee. , in a press release. “These findings underscore the urgent need to address inequality as we continue to work towards a strong, sustainable and equitable economic future.”

Salaried workers in some of these companies often fared better than their lower-paid hourly counterparts. For example, hourly Walmart workers quit or were fired at higher rates and received raises and promotions at lower rates than salaried workers 80% of the time, the report said.

Black hourly workers at Walmart were also reportedly fired twice as often as white hourly workers in 2020, at 19.7% versus 10.4%, according to the findings. Members of this group were also fired more than three times more often, 19.7%, than black employees at 6.3% and almost five times more frequently, 19.7%, than white employees at 4%.

Despite the disparities, Walmart has laid off relatively fewer people during the pandemic compared to other large employers. The company laid off 1,240 employees, far fewer than the 32,000 laid off by Disney. Boeing was next with 26,000 laid off, according to data compiled by the subcommittee.

Cisco and Chevron laid off 3,500 and 4,500, respectively. And Exxon Mobil laid off 14,000. The remaining companies laid off between 1,000 and 13,000 of their employees.

Layoffs also affected older workers at a higher rate than younger workers. Workers 50 and older were laid off at double, triple or even five times the rate of younger workers, and younger workers quit or retired at double or triple the rate of older workers, the report found. subcommittee.

Benefits also played a role in employee retention. One company lost 28.8% of male hourly workers and 35.5% of female hourly workers in 2020, citing a lack of paid sick leave. In comparison, 10.2% of male hourly workers and 12.4% of female hourly workers with access to sick leave quit that year.

But the dire outlook for hourly workers was only true for some companies during the pandemic, the subcommittee found. Hourly employees at Cisco would have done better than employees 40% of the time – defined as staying employed, getting a raise or a promotion. They fare worse than employees only 20% of the time.

Chevron and Exxon experienced similar trends. Hourly workers at Chevron outperformed salaried workers more than half the time, while hourly workers at Exxon outperformed salaried workers 40% of the time, according to the report.

Family and care leave also encouraged retention. According to the report, workers who had access to leave and took it quit at a lower rate than workers who did not have it more than 86% of the time. These workers also received raises at a higher rate than workers who did not take time off more than 87% of the time.

Data for LGBTQ+ workers was limited, the subcommittee found, because only one company tracked group data for the three years covered by the survey.

The subcommittee’s report is based on a December 2021 survey of 12 of the nation’s largest employers who also reported significant layoffs in 2020. Initial results released in May revealed that the economy in the age of the pandemic has disproportionately harmed women working for hourly wages.

Hourly female workers performed worse than their male counterparts about 30% of the time between 2019 and 2021. The gap peaked at 39.7% compared to salaried and hourly males in 2020.

In its final report, the subcommittee said benefits, including paid time off, may have influenced inequitable outcomes among hourly and salaried employees at surveyed companies.

For example, Walmart generally did not allow hourly workers to use paid time off before 90 days of employment. Other leave benefits, such as maternity leave and parental leave, were only available to these workers after 12 months.

Comparatively, companies like Chevron and Cisco made no distinction in access to benefits between hourly and salaried workers at the time of the survey and did not require a waiting period or apply the same eligibility standards for all employees.

Clyburn said the findings “underscore the critical importance of enacting a national, universal paid vacation program that gives every American access to these critical workplace benefits.”

“Working Americans deserve to know that no matter what crisis they face, they won’t have to choose between feeding their families and taking care of themselves and their loved ones,” he said. added.

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