COVID-19

About a third of companies cut employee pay in response to COVID-19, survey finds

Mitchell Hartman Jul 8, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Of the companies that cut employee pay in response to the pandemic, over half of them say cuts allowed them to avoid layoffs. Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

About a third of companies cut employee pay in response to COVID-19, survey finds

Mitchell Hartman Jul 8, 2020
Of the companies that cut employee pay in response to the pandemic, over half of them say cuts allowed them to avoid layoffs. Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

As bad as the pandemic job losses have been, with around 31 million Americans on unemployment rolls, it could actually have been worse. Some companies have managed to cut their labor costs to save money, without resorting to permanent layoffs — at least so far.

In a recent survey of HR managers, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that 1 in 3 companies cut employee pay in response to the pandemic.

“Of that group, 55% reported the cuts allowed them to avoid layoffs,” said senior vice president Andy Challenger.

The thinking from these companies, Challenger said, is “we’ll have our team intact, it won’t hurt morale so bad by letting people go.”

Even when companies do reduce payroll, some are trying to retain ties to their workers.

Among S&P 500 companies that have cut staff, three-quarters of them have done it through temporary furloughs rather than permanent layoffs, said Ganesh Rajappan, founder and CEO of the analytics firm MyLogIQ.

“I believe it was done to retain talent,” he said.

Rajappan said among companies that did furloughs or hiring freezes, about a quarter also reduced pay for top executives — though some of those cuts have since been restored.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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