Assessing Employer Stability in the Time of COVID

First a reminder: Correlation does not imply causation.  Second:  If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.  Third:  There is no “single silver bullet answer” to COVID-impact assessment, so ingest as much intelligence as you can, and then draw your own agency-relevant conclusions.

Even before the White House’s March 13 declaration of a national emergency around the COVID-19 crisis, we at EconoVue™ began fielding a surge of requests for data and analysis to help state and regional workforce boards get better insight on the impact to employer stability and layoff/furlough hotspots triggered by COVID-related business interruptions or operational compression required by social distancing.

New data sources are becoming available every week, from CDC reports on geographic variations in COVID frequency, to government-created definitions of “essential industries”, to business-specific performance data such as decreased commerce, increased risk and WARN notice filings.

As we approach the 90-day mark since the March 13 declaration, we analyzed the first available quarterly comparison of pre- and post-COVID Employer Failure Risk, nationally.  Using our time-series data archive we compared our January 2020 U.S. business data universe vs. April 2020 to analyze aggregate changes to Employer Failure Risk nationally, and at the individual state levels.

Employer Failure Risk Shifts

Our initial data review really shows that “it’s too soon to tell”.  Not surprisingly, this first short window of comparison showed only nominal measurable changes in the states and nationwide, as easily attributed to regular business dynamics as to early COVID-fear influences.  However, regular data reviews are essential to ongoing trend analysis, and this initial provides baseline data for ongoing COVID-influenced employer/workforce risk analyses.

Though the overall data shows relatively minor fluctuations in total Employer Failure Risk* categories across the High, Moderate and Low risk buckets, the aggregate changes indicate a slight risk shift to Moderate Risk, with the majority of those risk changes moving from Low to Moderate. Figure 1 shows the breakdown of risk shift segmented by Department of Labor workforce geographic regions.

At the state level we saw pockets of above-average risk shifts.  Figure 2 notes those states in which any risk category showed a change greater than 0.50%.  Notably, Illinois, Minnesota and Utah all showed >0.50% increases into the Low risk category for employer failure. 

Figure 3 shows the Employer Failure Risk changes by state from January to April.

This summary analysis presents the changes in Employer Risk at just the highest levels of geography.  EconoVue™ enables Workforce Development users to conduct their own employer risk assessments and pre/mid-COVID analysis in their own specific workforce region footprint, as tightly as zip code level. Additionally, specific employer-level data can be viewed to assist with the development of outreach, engagement and layoff aversion action plans.

 *Employer Failure Risk is determined using Dun & Bradstreet’s Financial Stress Score.

The Urban Explorer / EconoVue

At The Urban Explorer we regularly ingest and evaluate new data to help our EconoVue™ clients gain better visibility into their workforce and economy picture. We will continue provide impact assessment, trend analysis and enhanced data visualization for insight into COVID-related business dynamics, and for broader Workforce Development support.  We will conduct an updated employer risk comparison in July when our new quarterly data is available.

Designed for and with workforce/economic development practitioners, EconoVue™ is the most intuitive data visualization and business outreach platform for dissecting and understanding the economy at the neighborhood, city, regional and national levels.  It combines GIS, visualization tools for regional industry sector trend analysis, business research tools, CRM employer outreach components and a layoff aversion module featuring filters for finding companies by financial health.  For more information please visit us at