COVID-19 hits stocks, including staffing firms

12, March

Stocks took a hit amid fears over Covid-19, the novel coronavirus, and staffing stocks were impacted as well. ...

Stocks took a hit amid fears over Covid-19, the novel coronavirus, and staffing stocks were impacted as well. Companies also scrambled to cancel large events and urged employees to work from home when possible. Some staffing buyers said they would continue to pay contingent workers even if their hours were reduced. The coronavirus also raised concerns about the jobs picture.

“The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the labor market will depend on the amount of time it disrupts economic activity in the US,” said Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute.

Levanon’s comments came with The Conference Board’s announcement that its Employment Trends Index declined in February following an increase in January. However, the index doesn’t yet reflect the impact of Covid-19.

“If the economy resumes its previous course by April or May, the impact over the next few months will primarily be reflected in a drop in hours worked and perhaps in reduced hiring among the most impacted industries,” Levanon said.

On the other hand, if economic activity remains disrupted through early summer, he said then companies in several industries are likely to reduce their workforce, including layoffs, especially of less skilled workers. Those industries include travel, entertainment, lodging, food and hospitality.

The stock market took a hit today with concerns over Covid-19 and OPEC’s failure to reach a deal, which created concerns around oil prices, Yahoo reported. Shares in staffing stocks around the world were down, SIA reported. Shares in the largest publicly traded, US-based firms were also down in the early afternoon

For more, see the story “World – Staffing shares tumble as stock markets plummet” by SIA.

Companies have been responding to Covid-19 by cancelling conferences and encouraging employees to work from home when possible — SIA’s 2020 Executive Forum North America scheduled for this week was called off.

Santa Clara County in California on March 5 issued guidance calling for the elimination of meetings of more than 50 people and also asked companies to curtail nonessential travel due to the additional acceleration in reported outbreaks. It also encouraged employees to work from home when possible. SIA is based in Santa Clara County.

Contingent workers were also included in corporate concerns.

Facebook announced that it would pay contingent workers that cannot work due to lower staffing requirements, TechCrunch reported.

“We are working closely with our vendors to ensure we prioritize our team’s health and safety. Facebook will pay contingent workers that cannot work due to reduced staffing requirements during voluntary work from home, when we close an office, when we choose to send an employee home, or when they are sick,” Chloe Meyere, a Facebook company spokesperson wrote in an email to TechCrunch.

Meanwhile, Microsoft previously said it would pay its vendor hourly service providers their regular pay despite reduced needs for their services.