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What does coronavirus mean for the global workforce?

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli

Economic disruption caused by the spread of the coronavirus could impact work in numerous ways – from loss of wages suffered by low-wage workers, to reconfiguration of global job location, to greater dependence on technology to keep employees connected if workplaces are closed due to health concerns.

Alexander Colvin

Alexander Colvin

Dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Alexander Colvin, dean of Cornell University’s ILR School, is a work, labor and employment scholar. Dean Colvin can speak about the impact of the coronavirus on workers and organizations in the global economy. In the latest episode of the podcast “WORK!” he discussed the topic with New York Times economics reporter Eduardo Porter.


Colvin says:

“When times get tough, it's often the most vulnerable who take the worst hit. Economic slowdown due to the coronavirus will disproportionately impact low-wage workers, who often lack benefits such as paid sick leave.

“This situation could result in some businesses taking stock of whether to place production jobs in developing countries or locating them in developed countries. Calculations about the benefits and costs of moving jobs to different countries adds to uncertainty around the impact of the virus on employment. 

“Moving jobs back to the U.S. would come with additional labor costs, but the coronavirus might be a tipping point for some companies considering the return of some jobs to the U.S.

“Technology will become even more central to work if working from home is mandated by more organizations during the coronavirus outbreak. Many workers could experience sustained remote work for the first time in their careers.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.