How COVID Continues to Impact the Hourly Workforce

The continued and rapid rise in infections have led to changes in regional COVID restrictions, not only challenging how businesses operate but also the work and financial lives of the hourly workforce. Even before COVID, 78 percent of hourly workers reported living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet. The pandemic, its restrictions, and uncertainty around additional stimulus have only exacerbated this existing financial instability.


As a follow up to our previous research and to get a better understanding of the impact these restrictions have had, Branch surveyed nearly 3,000 hourly workers across industries and found:


Hours significantly impacted, reduced due to regional COVID restrictions

Over two-thirds (68.1%) of hourly workers surveyed have had or anticipate their hours impacted by regional COVID-19 restrictions. The region who experienced the greatest impact was

●  Among those who have had their hours impacted or anticipate they will, 59% have experienced reduced hours.

●  Nearly 15% are on leave (10.8% on unpaid leave with plans to return and 4.1% on paid leave).


Hourly workers seeking supplemental income during the holiday season

The fluctuation in hours has already led hourly workers to add or look for another job to supplement my income (55.8%). Nearly 20 percent of hourly workers are considering adding another job (19.7%).

●  Over three-quarters (77.3%) have already reduced their holiday spending plans, with another 10% considering it.  

●  Their primary financial concerns continue to be short-term financial needs such as utility bills (74.2%), groceries (68.8%), and home/rent (62.3%).


Most Helpful Benefit: Bonus Pay  

When asked among the most helpful benefits from their employer during this time, hourly workers overwhelmingly cited bonus pay (84.5%). However, paid sick time (48.8%) and on demand pay (48.4%) were neck-in for second.


Despite the challenges from the pandemic, the majority of hourly workers surveyed (57.1%) remained confident in their employment outlook over the next three months. Check out the below for additional findings.



Have your hours/shifts been impacted due to regional COVID-19 restrictions?

●  Yes, they have: 62.3%

●  No, I’m working about the same number of hours: 27.7%

●  Not yet, but I anticipate they will: 5.8%

●  Not yet, but I anticipate they won't: 4.2%


How so?

●  I’m working fewer hours: 59.1%

●  I’m working more hours: 20.4%

●  I am currently on or anticipate being on unpaid leave, with plans to return: 10.8%

●  I’m currently on or anticipate being on paid leave: 4.1%

●  Other: 5.6%


Are you already taking on or looking for additional work to supplement your income during this holiday season?

●  Yes, I am looking for another job to supplement my income: 44.1%

●  No, I am not: 24.5%

●  Maybe, still deciding: 19.7%

●  Yes, I already have another job to supplement my income: 11.7%


Are you planning to spend less this holiday season because of the pandemic?

●  Yes: 77.3%

●  No: 12.7%

●  Maybe: 10%


What are your top financial concerns during this time? (select top 3)

●  Utility Bills: 74.2%

●  Groceries: 68.9%

●  Home/rent affordability: 62.3%

●  Autocare/Transportation: 23.5%

●  Medical/Healthcare costs: 20.8%

●  Childcare: 18%

●  Short-term savings: 17.7%

●  School/College Tuition Debt: 9.9%

●  Retirement: 3.7%

●  Eldercare: 1%


What type of benefits could your employer offer that would be most helpful to you right now? (select top 3)

●  Bonus pay: 84.5%

●  Paid/sick time off: 48.8%

●  On-demand pay: 48.4%

●  Flexible scheduling: 34.9%

●  Mental health support: 22.8%

●  Financial advice/tools: 22.6%

●  Childcare support: 18.2%

●  Career development/training: 13.6%

●  Eldercare support: 2.2%

●  Other: 4.2%



How confident do you feel in your employment outlook over the next 3 months (scale 1 - 5, 5 = very confident)

●  5 - Very confident: 23.3%

●  4 - Confident: 33.8%

●  3 - Neither: 22.3%

●  2 - Not confident: 12.5%

●  1 - Not confident at all: 8%





The survey was conducted through the Branch app December 2020 featuring responses from 2,998 hourly employees across industries ranging from retail, food service, to healthcare. Participation in this survey was completely voluntary and all responses were anonymized.

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