EPI: Downturn in Strike Activity Reflects COVID-19 Recession

Labor News

Reprinted from The Economic Policy Institute by Margaret PoydockCeline McNicholas, and Heidi Shierholz on February 19, 2021.

This report finds that after increasing dramatically in 2018 and 2019, the official federal count of workers involved in major strikes dropped in 2020. Key findings include:

  • Anemic wage growth despite low unemployment—motivating workers to push for pay raises that the tight labor market was not delivering—likely explained the large increase to an annual average of 455,400 workers involved in the Bureau of Labor Statistics tally of “major work stoppages” in 2018 and 2019.
  • Due to the COVID-19 recession, the number of people involved in major work stoppages fell to 24,000—the lowest count since 2009, the depths of the Great Recession.
  • The BLS data on major work stoppages only include strikes (and the rare employer lockout) involving 1,000 or more workers lasting at least one full shift. These size and duration limits mean that the BLS data did not capture the actions taken by many workers who walked off the job to demand a healthy and safe workplace during the pandemic. …

EPI 2/19

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.