U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip Header

Essential, Frontline, and High Risk: How COVID-19 Prioritized Low-wage Workers while Heightening their Disadvantage

Written by:
Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2022-08


Defining the essential workforce during the global health pandemic presents several challenges for researchers and policy makers. In this analysis, we attempt to articulate a definition of essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.  We argue that it is the combination of three distinct classifications of the work environment – essential, frontline, and high-risk - that should inform policy around essential work, and using those classifications, we demonstrate the significant needs faced by many in such occupations.

Related Information


Back to Header