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ASCM Insights

Closing the Opportunity Gap


The extreme disruption of COVID-19 is having a profound impact on the labor market and threatens deep, long-term damage to the overall economy. The upsurge in telework by higher-paid workers, the rise of automation, and fewer people traveling and dining out are all disproportionately affecting service employees. A recent Wall Street Journal article says the resulting ripple effect will be “good for professionals — and bad for everyone else,” intensifying inequalities that have been in place for decades.

“For many professionals, technology has been a lifeline during the pandemic, enabling them to be productive while stuck at home,” Christopher Mims writes in the Journal. “For many other workers, it is a new dividing line, corralling them further into the stagnant corners of the economy.”

Moreover, numerous experts believe the pandemic will permanently decrease the number of people who work in an actual office, as well as business travel, which is an enormous revenue source for hotels and restaurants.

According to a U.S. Federal Reserve survey, 39% of employed people in households that earn less than $40,000 a year were furloughed or lost their job this past March; for households earning more than $100,000 a year, that number was only 13%.  

Meanwhile, many small businesses are being completely wiped out. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that 58% of small business owners are concerned that they may have to permanently close. Of those who have laid off employees, 48% say it will be three months to a year before they can rehire.

Wise investments

Adapting people’s competencies to the post-pandemic marketplace is essential to getting individuals back to work, buoying communities and rebuilding economies. And this endeavor involves much more than telework and technology; it requires effective education, upskilling and reinventing traditional business models.

This topic and many more will be explored at ASCM CONNECT, September 14-16, along the Talent, Leadership and Culture learning path. At this virtual event, attendees will learn how to develop the next generation of supply chain professionals for their organizations while gaining essential technical and leadership skills to advance their own careers.

ASCM is also offering support for those who are out of work through a three-part series on pandemic-era job search strategies hosted by ASCM’s Career Coach, Rodney Apple. There’s special pricing for anyone who is currently unemployed.

And as always, we’re here to support corporations and individuals with a vast array of professional development programs, including APICS certifications and a body of knowledge that has been the global standard in supply chain learning and development for more than 60 years. I hope you’ll take advantage of these valuable member benefits.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at

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