There is no clear definition of a second wave of COVID-19, with some insisting the pandemic simply continues to rage and others suggesting current spikes are entirely new developments. Considering what the first few months of the pandemic did to the economy, what do we think a second wave - in whatever form it takes - could do?

To understand employment security amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we spoke to more than 1,200 employed people across the U.S. They explained their current workloads, their vaccination plans, and their levels of anxiety over potentially losing their job. If there's any indication of what could happen to our economy amid a second wave, it's here. Keep scrolling to find out.

Satisfaction and Security

Our study begins with a look into both how satisfied and secure employed people feel in their current positions. Respondents also shared how their workload has changed since the pandemic first began in March of 2020.

Job Assessments

Both job satisfaction and job security - among those who already had jobs - were relatively high, especially considering the second wave we may likely be facing. The vast majority of employed people considered themselves at least moderately satisfied and moderately secure in their workplace today.

Workloads had increased since the pandemic, however. Only 3.1% said they somehow had much less work since the pandemic. Considering the mass layoffs that occurred since the pandemic began, it's likely that employees who did have smaller workloads were let go, and those loads were absorbed by the employees who now report their workloads as having increased. Job security may come as a burden to employees, with almost 42% of those who reported having much more work these days also reporting being much more secure in their jobs.

Vaccination Plans

With the COVID-19 vaccine unlikely to become mandatory, we wanted to ask employees what their plans were once the vaccine became widely available. We also asked them to share their opinions on how they felt their employers should handle vaccinations within the company.

Vaxx itudes

Most employees planned on getting the vaccination, or at least considered themselves very likely (18.3%) or extremely likely (41.9%) to get it. A small yet substantial percentage (5.8%) had actually already received the vaccine. These individuals likely work in the health care field or are above the age of 75, as these groups are currently prioritized by the CDC to receive the vaccine.

More than a third - exactly 35% - of respondents agreed that the vaccine rollout would improve their sense of job security. That said, more than half felt it would have no effect at all. When it came to their employers, however, most employees wanted them to make it a priority. Fifty percent agreed that yes, it's very or even extremely important that their employer makes vaccinations a priority. This mentality and encouragement in taking the vaccine may help achieve what's known as "herd immunity” where the entire population can become immune for all intents and purposes, even if less than 100% of people receive the vaccine.

Government Order Impact

With a new administration taking charge of the U.S. executive branch in 2021, we wanted to make sure we gauged how respondents felt certain government mandates would impact job security. Questions on this new administration were done in an A/B format (alternating between Trump and Biden as being in charge) to ensure that political bias was accounted for. This portion of the study also digs into the impact and desires for a government-funded financial stimulus.

State of the Union

If an additional government-mandated shutdown occurs, fewer than a third of currently employed people felt their job security would be fine. The vast majority agreed that their jobs would be at least somewhat at risk, even if they were not currently working on-site. The new administration plays an enormous role here, as 55.9% agreed their approach was extremely to very important to their sense of economic security.

While there is talk from Biden of an additional $1,400 stimulus check being doled out, there is no guarantee that will occur nor that it would be enough in the first place. Any stimulus is certainly important to respondents, however. Fifty percent considered these checks as very to extremely important to their personal finance, while 47.3% said it was very to extremely important for businesses across the country.

Second Wave and Mental Health

We would be remiss to not include a peek into the mental state of respondents. Considering this group has maintained an income, we'd hope for their anxieties to be somewhat minimal, but, unfortunately, such was not the case.

State of mind

Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 18% of adults in the U.S. struggled with a generalized anxiety disorder. Throw in the pandemic and a fear of job loss, and that number has likely gone up. Among respondents living through the pandemic and managing to hold onto a job, 1 in 5 reported feeling depressed, anxious, or even uncontrollably worried at least 3 out of the last 7 days - a significant increase from 18%. Those who reported regularly feeling a mental health stressor were also three times as likely to report regular arguments with family and friends and feel less job security, all of which can compound to create even more stress in an already stressful situation.

With job security being such a common stressor, we also asked how likely respondents were to start looking for a new job in the future. Sixteen percent said they were very likely to start looking, while an additional 10.9% said they were extremely likely to do so. Unfortunately, they often didn't feel that just one job was enough to survive during these times. Many who considered looking for a new job actually wanted to take on a full-time job in addition to their current one, culminating in roughly 80 hours per week of desired work, or at least desired compensation. Fifteen percent wanted to take on a side hustle in addition to their current position, and 18.2% anticipated pursuing an additional part-time job.

Political Component

Like many other things in this world, the pandemic became highly politicized. People's approaches to their own health often became influenced by their political parties as opposed to their doctors. The last part of our study looks at the impacts political party affiliation has on vaccination plans and opinions.

The influence of politics

Political alliances clearly influenced personal approach to the vaccine. Republicans were more than twice as likely as Democrats to say they were not at all interested in getting the vaccine. Democrats were also more likely to insist that their employers make the vaccination a workplace priority.

The influence of a shutdown was also more likely to be viewed negatively among Republicans, who were more than twice as likely (17.9%) to report future government-mandated shutdowns would seriously harm their job security, compared to Democrats (7.8%) and independents (8.6%). Notably, this sentiment was not echoed across incomes, with a range from 5% to 13.9% and an average of 11.1%.

While respondents across political parties agreed that recommendations from their health care providers would be the top factor in deciding whether to receive the vaccine, Republican-leaning respondents' faith in government health officials plummeted compared to Democrats' (14.4% to 21.2%, respectively).

Job Security in the Pandemic Economy

The looming effects of the pandemic are being continuously felt even now. Many employed respondents wanted to take on additional jobs or side hustles and expressed feeling anxious or stressed multiple days of the week. The vaccinations show a light at the end of the tunnel for many, and most agree their employers should make the vaccine a priority. These feelings aren't shared across the political spectrum, however, with Republican-leaning respondents less likely to trust government health officials, less likely to be interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and most likely to feel future government action will negatively affect their job security.

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Skynova helps small businesses get paid faster. Skynova offers easy-to-use but highly professional templates and accounting services to help other businesses, both small and large, receive the payments they need to keep the business running smoothly. Even businesses with experience in this area are still better off outsourcing so that they can focus on their particular strengths and growing their ideas. Skynova can provide professionalism, affordability, and reliability that any thriving business needs.

Methodology and Limitations

We collected 1,211 responses from employed Americans through Amazon Mechanical Turk. 53% of our participants identified as men, 46% as women, and 1% as nonconforming or nonbinary. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 77 with a mean of 37.8 and a standard deviation of 11.2. We excluded those who listed their employment status as student, homemaker, or not currently employed. Our sample included 599 respondents who self-reported leaning Democrat, 244 as independent, and 368 as Republican.

The data we are presenting rely on self-report. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to, the following: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration. Our survey data were unweighted, and no statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on means alone. As such, this content is purely exploratory, and future research should approach this topic in a more rigorous way.

Fair Use Statement

If you're feeling stressed or insecure about your current financial situation or job security, this study should show you are certainly not alone. If you think someone else could benefit from these findings, you are welcome to share the article. Just be sure your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page.