[ Question ]

Examples of loss of jobs due to Covid in EA

by agent181 min read28th Aug 20207 comments


CommunityCareer ChoiceCoronavirus


I would like to get a "feel" of the number of jobs lost in EA in a pandemic situation and the type of jobs being lost.

Did anyone get fired from an EA org or similar? Are orgs hiring less due to Covid than what they had planned in Jan 2020 (by how much)? Are there any changes for plans in 2021 in hiring than initially planned because of Covid?

I would like purely concrete examples.

Hypothetical Example Answers

  1. "I (or My friend) lost job from OPP as they told me they did not have funds to support me. I have 1 year Exp in EA doing research. Meanwhile I found a job in Data science."
  2. "We at GiveWell wanted to hire 5 researchers this year, but ended up reducing that to 1".
  3. "We at OPP have not fired anyone this year".

EA orgs or similar

GiveWell, OPP, Rethink Priorities, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AMF, Open AI, Giving What We Can, TLYCS, Give Directly etc.

P.S Any other ideas on estimating/"understanding" this question, looking at other proxy data is also welcome. I know of this website for tracking the layoffs of US startups

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4 Answers

All hiring and other activities at Rethink Priorities is continuing as normal without any noticeable affect from COVID-19.

I haven't actually heard of any EA organizations laying off staff due to COVID-19. I wouldn't be surprised if you see very little loss of jobs at EA orgs specifically, or even none at all, over the last couple of months. Most EA organizations seem to have a decent amount of runway, and with a lot of EA donors employed in big tech, which seems to have been relatively stable throughout COVID, there is fortunately still a decent amount of income coming through.

That said, I suspect most of the financial and hence employment impacts of COVID on EA orgs will be in the future as organizations eat into their runway, especially this giving season if donors give significantly less than usual. If there's a big loss of jobs in EA orgs, I'd suspect it to hit around January or February, after organizations take stock after giving season.

I lost my job at an oil & gas software company, so now I have less money to donate to clean energy and other causes. (It's not one of the worst effects of COVID, I'll grant you.)

Googling around I'm surprised how hard it is to find articles about job losses that were not published in March or April. Oilfield services were hardest-hit after April, whereas mostly restaurants, leisure & hospitality were hit hardest in March and April. The best info I could find by sector was this BLS report ("nonprofit" was not among the categories) and this chart shows that unemployment in the U.S. jumped from 3.5% in February to 14.7% in April, and fell steadily to 10.2% in July.

Animal Charity Evaluators suspended their paid internship program for the second half of 2020, but plans to resume it in early 2021. This didn't result in anyone losing a job; rather, it meant that temporary intern positions were not filled that otherwise likely would have been, had COVID-19 not happened. There are more details about this in ACE's Room for More Funding blogpost.