Social Distancing Impacts High-Contact Industries

The impact of COVID-19 is evident when the public looks to high contact industries. High contact-industries rely more on face-to-face interactions to conduct business operations. These industries, with the exception of healthcare services and other essential occupations, experienced a drop in demand as consumers began to shelter in place or follow “Stay-at-Home” orders in their region.

The St. Louis Federal Reserve bank used O*NETS occupational database and the 2017 American Community Survey to classify industries according to their degree of contact intensity. The physical proximity index created categorized industries by NAICS code to determine if industries would be considered high contact-intensive or low contact-intensive. Industries with a physical proximity index above 60 are considered contact-intensive industries. Thirty-eight NAICS codes were identified as contact-intensive by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, and 28 of those industry groupings were affected by the COVID-19 closures.

The Haas Center analyzed these industries to determine the percentage of high contact-intensive jobs impacted in Florida and the 10-county northwest region of Florida. Florida's share of high contact-industries impacted by the pandemic is 33%. The 10-county northwest region of Florida is similarly impacted at 33% of jobs designed as within high-contact industries.

Within the 10-county region, Walton County has the highest percentage of jobs impacted at 48% of their workforce, while Liberty County has the lowest percentage of impact with 11% of total jobs impacted. Escambia County has the highest number of jobs impacted (47,770 jobs).

The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank also found that approximately 16% of low contact-intensive industries final good and services are sold to high contact-intensive industries. It is clear that although the most visible business effects of the pandemic may concern high contact-intensive industries, low contact-intensive industries will also be affected.

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