Giving Compass' Take:

• A study indicates that three-quarters of US workers are in jobs that cannot be done remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• These workers are not only increasing their chances of contracting the disease but are subjected to more layoffs, furloughs, and mental health stressors. How can you help the essential workers in your local community? 

• Read more about protecting and insuring essential workers.

A new study finds that about three-quarters of US workers, or 108 million people, are in jobs they cannot do from home during a pandemic, putting these workers at increased risk of exposure to disease.

This majority of workers are also at higher risk for other job disruptions such as layoffs, furloughs, or hours reductions, the researchers report.

Such job disruptions can cause stress, anxiety, and other mental health outcomes that could persist even as the United States reopens its economic and social life, says author Marissa Baker, an assistant professor in the environmental and occupational health sciences department at the University of Washington.

These workers also represent some of the lowest-paid workers in the US workforce, Baker emphasizes.

The remaining 25% of US workers, or 35.6 million people, are in jobs that can be done at home. These jobs are typically in highly-paid occupational sectors such as finance, administration, computer engineering, and technology.

Even as the economy begins to reopen, these workers will continue to be better shielded from exposure to the virus and have an increased ability to care for a child at home—further growing the disparity between the top quarter of the workforce and the rest, the study finds.

“This pandemic has really exacerbated existing vulnerabilities in American society, with workers most affected by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders being significantly lower-paid and now also at increased risk for mental health outcomes associated with job insecurity and displacement, in addition to increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 if they keep going to work,” says Baker.

“The most privileged workers will have a job that can be done at home, reducing their risk of exposure, and enabling them to continue to work even as office buildings were closed. Unfortunately, only a quarter of the US workforce falls into this category. The fact that these are some of the highest-paid workers in the US is no surprise,” Baker adds.

Read the full article about remote jobs during COVID-19 by Jake Ellison at Futurity.