Essential Frontline Workers during COVID explored by LAEDC in new CCW report

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on workers both nationwide and in the Los Angeles Basin has demonstrated the critical importance of essential workers. Despite stay-at-home orders and widespread business closures that have impacted the lives and livelihoods of countless residents, workers in critical infrastructure industries have generally been able to maintain steady employment and incomes as their sectors were allowed to continue operating. Although sustained work throughout the pandemic has put many of these low-wage workers with higher risk of exposure to the virus, it has also protected the financial stability of their households to a much higher degree than similar low-wage workers in non-essential industries forced to close.

As frontline industries will operate no matter what economic shocks may arise, they can provide attractive career pathways for their lower-skill workers to progress and advance to higher-skill positions with training and skill development, all while remaining insulated from the employment and financial insecurity of unforeseen catastrophes like a global pandemic.

LAEDC set out to study the demand for middle-skill occupations in the essential occupations set forth by the California State Public Health Office, with the intention of calibrating the region’s talent development system, and ultimately helping job seekers find well-paying careers in hiring industries.

This report, Essential Workers in Critical Infrastructure Industries at the time of COVID-19, is the latest in a series of reports LAEDC has published  through the Center for a Competitive Workforce, a partnership with the LA/OC Center of Excellence for Labor Market Research and LAEDC.  The report focuses on the occupations of essential workers in critical infrastructure, or frontline, industries in the Los Angeles Basin (Los Angeles and Orange counties).

The partnership between our region’s community colleges and industry has never been more important.  LAEDC, as the region’s economic development leader, is a strategic partner facilitating regional industry engagement efforts and providing the labor market research expertise from which good planning and data-driven decisions can be made.  Together, the colleges and LAEDC are leading this important regional initiative to sustain our economy and deliver opportunity for students and businesses.

Through the CCW partnership, LAEDC convenes employers/industry and community colleges to promote collaboration and share insights on talent, technology and trends to strengthen the alignment of education and training that meets the needs of the rapidly changing industries that will dominate our economic future.  LAEDC’s work under CCW has several work streams:

• Labor Market Analysis    • Industry Councils    • Regional Program Advisory Meetings    • Work-Based Learning Partnerships   • Company Visits and Career Videos   • Workforce and Education Partners Portal     • Bioscience Industry Portal

View a visual summary of the report and download the report itself from the CCW website:


The report analyzes the employment impacts of the COVID pandemic on “essential” occupations, the requisite skills, wages, the outlook for job openings, education pathways to upwardly advance, workforce demographics and also identifies local colleges with which businesses can partner for talent and work-based learning internships.

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