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Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Agricultural Employment
USAgNet - 03/26/2020

Like other industries, social distancing, remote work, isolation, virtual meetings and new workplace precautions have become the norm for the U.S. agricultural industry. Over the past week, surveyed employees and candidates to discover how COVID-19 affected their employment. also surveyed employers about how they're preparing their workforce for the situation.

Reassuringly, 75% of employee respondents said COVID-19 had not changed their employment status. One-quarter of employees had experienced change, from reduction in hours (8%), to layoffs (7%), etc., while only 1% were dismissed from employment. Nearly one-third of respondents are now working from home due to COVID-19. More than 40% of employees said their role requires them to be at work and they couldn't conduct their job remotely.

Employees expressed concern that their employment could suffer due to COVID-19, but they were more concerned about the health of their employer/business. The pandemic is bringing new job seekers to the market; 21% said that since Coronavirus, they are now exploring job opportunities. This includes 14% who said they weren't looking but are casually looking now to understand their options, and 7% who weren't looking, but are aggressively looking now to manage risk.

More than half of employers had a COVID-19 business continuity plan in place to help reduce risks to the business. Eighty-four percent of employers said their organization could accommodate work from home/remote work in some or all employees. Sixteen percent said employees were unable to work remotely. Production and Manufacturers were significantly less likely than Agribusinesses to say all employees could work remotely.

The most common way all ag employers are planning to provide coverage for sick or absent employees is to ask 'well' employees to cover. Thirty-five percent of employers said they were planning work rotation schedules to reduce exposure among staff with on and off schedules.

Recruiting and hiring hasn't been halted by ag employers, as 81% of employers are continuing recruitment and hiring despite the pandemic. The majority of employers are keeping their recruitment activities the same as they planned/projected.

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