Press Release Government Jobs United States

Massive Pandemic-Related Labor Protests Documented; But Missed by Government Labor Statistics

July 13, 2021

Contact: Karen Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington DC — Most pandemic-related worker actions, like strikes and walkouts, were not counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is geared to only recognize large and highly orchestrated union work stoppages. As revealed in a new article, released today by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), the COVID-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map did manage to capture a broad range of protest actions, be they called strikes or work stoppages. 

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is co-releasing the INET article here, written by Clarissa A. León and Mike Elk. The tracker, established by the publication Payday Report, finds that from March to December 2020, there were 1,200 strike actions nationwide, compared to only eight “major work stoppages” recorded by the BLS for the entire year. The tracker used news and social media accounts of workers walking off the job in protest as a measure of strike activity. Whereas the BLS only recognizes actions at employers with 1,000 or more workers, and actions “must last at least one shift during the week, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays.”

“In the era of COVID and digital movements, these strikes look radically different from traditional labor strikes,” said Payday Report’s founder, Mike Elk. “Workers are taking action across the country as the tracker proves, even if those actions are uncounted by the BLS.”

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