How People Analytics Teams Can Use Data to Navigate COVID-19

Published on Apr 9, 2020

Updated on Apr 9, 2024

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

As COVID-19 continues to upend the United States economy, companies everywhere are scrambling to adjust their people analytics strategies.

After all, talent needs are now drastically different in many industries—and changing quickly. The restaurant industry, which boomed after the Great Recession, has ground to a halt, costing US restaurants billions and forcing massive layoffs. Meanwhile, grocery stores and online retailers like Amazon are hiring like crazy to keep up with increased demand. 

The people analytics strategy your company used in early March may very well be irrelevant today. With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s hard to know where to start.

Here are four ways people analytics teams can use data to navigate COVID-19. 


  1. Track COVID-19’s effect on the job market

  2. Find out who’s hiring and where

  3. Identify the skills in your workforce

  4. Evaluate the health of your locations

Looking for economic data regarding COVID-19? We want to help.



1. Use job postings to track COVID-19’s effect on the job market

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, so people analytics teams need real-time data points to help them understand the economic impact of the virus.

That’s where job postings come in. Job postings give us the most up-to-date look at the labor market and employer demand. An increase or decrease in postings could represent an increase or decrease in demand for talent. 

Using Lightcast’s free job posting dashboard, we can track US monthly job postings and compare to 2019 averages. We can also filter by region, industry, company, job, and skill. 

For example, in the dashboard, we can see that postings for Food Service and Drinking Places have dropped 27% from last year. We can also search by company to see how they’ve adjusted their hiring strategies. 

 For example, Amazon recently announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers to keep up with increased demand.

Using the dashboard, we can see that at the end of March, Amazon had over 56,300 active job postings—up 97% from last year. The vast majority of the postings are in Washington state.

We can also see which occupations within Amazon are most affected by this hiring spree. Software developers take the lead with the most active job postings (nearly 7,000), up 7% from last year. But it’s the warehouse and delivery occupations that have seen the most massive jumps from last year.

But let’s say you’re not looking for data on a specific company. Maybe you want to see a list of which companies (staffing and/or non-staffing) have been hiring the most over the last 30 days. Or maybe you want to know which job titles, occupations, and skills have increased or decreased in demand in the last 30 days.

The Job Postings Table in Talent Analyst can give us those big-picture views. For example, let’s say you’re interested in which companies in Atlanta are on a hiring growth trend right now. In the Job Postings Table, we can search for all companies in Atlanta (not including staffing), filter out those with fewer than 500 postings, and sort by largest percent change.

We can also figure out which occupations in Atlanta have been in growth mode over the last 30 days.

With things changing so fast, job postings data is your best bet for finding out how COVID-19 is affecting the economy, in any region, in real time.

And if you need a benchmark for what the economy looked like before COVID-19, try the Market Snapshot report in Talent Analyst. Based on government data, this report will reflect pre-virus market conditions and help you fully comprehend the economic effects of COVID-19 and make decisions that incorporate the full picture.



2. Where are companies hiring during COVID-19? This report has the answer

Speaking of job postings, they’re also handy when it comes to figuring out where companies are hiring. 

Using the Map Job Postings report in Talent Analyst, we can track in which regions a company has increased or decreased their posting activity in the latest 30 days. This will help you know where the hiring is happening or where the hiring has slowed and better understand COVID-19’s economic impact on your territory. 

For example, we know Amazon is hiring 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers, but where are they posting for that talent? Unsurprisingly, Seattle (Amazon’s headquarters) comes in first, by a lot.

Employer demand is undoubtedly going to look different in your region as a result of COVID-19. The Map Job Postings report (and job postings, in general) can help people analytics teams stay on top of the trends and continue hiring strategically.



3. Identify the skills in your workforce with the Lightcast Skills library

With COVID-19 taking a heavy toll on U.S. industries, companies have been forced to lay off millions of employees. In fact, in the last two weeks, nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment. Many companies have also instituted hiring freezes.

Companies facing either scenario should consider analyzing the skills of their employees using the Lightcast Skills library. That way, if they have to lay off employees, managers can talk with them about their skill sets and how they transfer to other occupations or companies, or refer them to Lightcast’s new Resume Optimizer. This helps employees find new jobs faster and employers maintain an empathetic people analytics strategy. 

For companies in a hiring freeze, it’s going to be especially cost-effective to understand the skills of your workforce. You might not be able to hire from outside the company, but maybe someone within your ranks already has the skills for the role.

To run a skills analysis, visit the Lightcast Skills website and run your employees’ resumes through the Skills Extractor or sign up for API access.  

Sidenote: Companies can also use skills data to optimize their job postings, which is particularly critical when budgets are tight.



4. Evaluate the economic health of your company’s locations

In addition to evaluating personnel, many people analytics teams are also evaluating their company’s locations. 

For expansion or consolidation, especially in times of crisis, it is critical to make location decisions with evidence-based research. Lightcast’s Location Economics team helps Fortune 500 clients across every industry understand and model labor market information. This includes talent supply, compensation, demographics, commute times, projected job growth, cost of living, crime rates, and social indicators like culture and lifestyle and health.

For example, Bedrock uses Lightcast’s Location Economics data to highlight Detroit’s economic strengths, talent pool, and business needs and attract companies to the Motor City. 

Companies are navigating difficult challenges related to COVID-19. But if they can build strategic location plans that mitigate risk, they’ll set themselves up for a resilient future. 



As COVID-19 forces companies to adjust, people analytics teams can use data to navigate the crisis in a strategic, empathetic, and people-focused way. Whether it’s our job posting dashboardTalent AnalystLightcast Skills, or Location Economics modeling, Lightcast has complete labor market data for people analytics teams of all sizes. 

For more data, research, tools, and webinars related to COVID-19, visit Lightcast’s COVID-19 resources page

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