High Risk Worker Populations
On April 1, 2020, Florida issued a 30-day statewide shutdown to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Other measures were implemented in March by state an local authorities, such as limiting the number of patrons in a restaurant, closing of retail and department stores and the mobilization of offices to work remotely. Governor DeSantis’ “Safer at Home” order allowed for the exception of essential occupations. Essential occupations include public health and safety jobs, grocery store jobs, food and agricultural jobs, public works jobs and others.
The St. Louis Federal Reserve bank completed an analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) for 2018, using their 808 detailed occupation codes to categorize workers as at either a high risk or a low risk of unemployment. Occupations categorized as “low risk,” include those essential to public health or safety, occupations that could be completed off-site, or occupations likely to be salaried. In comparison, “high risk” occupations are deemed not essential, could not operate off-site, and most likely earned an hourly wage. High risk occupations experience increased risks of unemployment.
Florida is nationally known for its tourism industry, which is supported by workers considered “high risk.” Nevertheless, when ranked nationally according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s measures, Florida ranks 34th among states for “high risk” worker populations. A similar ranking is used to measure 150 national metropolitan areas. In Florida, the Naples metropolitan area scored the highest in the state, i.e. the most “high risk” workers, with a national ranking of 5 out of 150. The second most vulnerable Florida MSA was Orlando, ranked at 59 in the nation, followed by Pensacola at 80. The metropolitan area with the least amount of “high risk” workers in the state is Tallahassee, ranked at 144.