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Local Political Leaning Influences Whether Employers Advertise Required Vaccination

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Vaccination requirement is advertised more in bluer metros.

Key Points

  • A metro’s political leaning is a significant factor in whether job postings on Indeed  specify required vaccination.
  • Large, blue metros lead in the share of job postings advertising required vaccination.
  • Postings in occupational sectors with higher shares of remote work are more than three times as likely to advertise required vaccination as postings in in-person sectors.  

Job postings on Indeed advertising required vaccination against COVID-19 rose rapidly during the second half of 2021. As of February 4, they represented 7.1% of job postings nationwide, though their rate of increase has slowed slightly in recent weeks. Notably, there’s plenty of differentiation across metros and occupational sectors. 

Specifying in job ads that COVID-19 vaccination is required is a signal about how employers are navigating the pandemic. An employer can still require vaccination, but may choose not to advertise it. Vaccination rates differ across age, sex and education levels, as well as by geography. Employers are aware of this as they try to put their best foot forward to job seekers. Additionally, employers want to know the attitudes of current employees about vaccination, given an environment in which workers are quitting in record numbers. Nationally, unemployed job seekers still cite COVID-19 concerns as a reason not to search urgently for work. But it’s local factors that ultimately drive differences in the rate employers advertise required vaccination. 

Vaccination advertised more in blue metros

Line graph titled “Job postings in blue metros more often advertising required vaccination.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 6%, Indeed tracked the percent of job postings advertising required vaccination between June 1, 2021 and February 1, 2022 with lines representing red metros and blue metros. 

Politics turns out to be a major determinant of the rate of vaccination requirements appearing in Indeed job postings. In January, 7.1% of job postings in blue metros advertised required vaccination compared with 4.4% in red metros. Even when controlling for a metro’s job mix, political orientation is statistically significant. Vaccination against COVID-19 has emerged as an ideological litmus test and party affiliation is a key factor in whether individuals choose to get vaccinated. 

Employers are taking cues from local attitudes about COVID-19 when deciding whether to advertise required vaccination in job postings. Because vaccination is a hot button issue, employers are seeking to strike the right tone to avoid alienating potential workers amid a tight labor market. 

Large cities lead in job postings advertising vaccination 

Table titled “Metros most often advertising vaccination required.” Indeed listed the US metros with the largest share of job postings advertising required vaccination during January 2022. 

In January 2022, among large metro areas, Springfield, MA, had the highest share of job postings advertising required vaccination. Meanwhile, West Coast metros from San Diego, CA, to San Francisco, CA, to Seattle, WA, made a strong showing. Nine of ten of these high-requirement metros voted Democratic in the 2020 presidential election. In contrast, metro size was not significant in whether job postings advertised required vaccination more often. In October and November 2021, a metro’s share of people with bachelor’s degrees was significant, but it no longer is, possibly reflecting increased vaccination politicization.

Remote jobs more likely to advertise vaccination requirement 

Line graph titled “Job postings by occupation remote-work share.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 9%, Indeed tracked the percentage of job postings advertising required vaccination between February 1, 2020, and January 21, 2022, with lines representing “low remote.” “medium remote,” and “high remote.” 

As of January 21, 2022, 10.9% of job postings in remote sectors advertised required vaccination compared with just 3.1% of job postings in in-person sectors. On its face, this seems odd. Shouldn’t job postings in in-person sectors note vaccination requirements more than ads in remote ones, in which work involves less face-to-face contact? 

It may be that some employers are using vaccination requirements to appeal to certain groups of workers. In particular, workers with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to work in occupations that can be done remotely, and they have the highest vaccination rate across education levels. Job seekers are shifting their relative interest toward postings with high advertised wages — and those are more likely to be remote. Vaccination requirements don’t appear to be arresting this trend. On the flip side, job seeker searches for postings that note vaccination is not required remain low, representing less than 0.2% of searches on Indeed on January 21.

Once again, political division rears its head. In December and January, a metro’s political leaning was a significant factor in how likely job postings were to note vaccination requirements across both high work-from-home and high in-person sectors. In other words, postings for software development jobs, probably remote, and food service jobs, probably in-person, both have higher shares of vaccination requirements in blue metros than in red ones. 

Conclusion

Vaccination against COVID-19 became widespread in late spring and summer of 2021. Since then, job postings on Indeed advertising required vaccination have filtered across occupational sectors and geographical regions. A metro’s political leaning is a significant factor in whether job ads specify required vaccination. Vaccination is a divisive issue and employers appear to be responding to local opinion. In a tight labor market, employers want to avoid alienating potential job seekers and therefore may hesitate to advertise vaccination requirements. Hiring Lab will keep a close eye on these trends as the pandemic continues. 

Methodology 

We define job postings requiring vaccination using an extensive list of terms such as “vaccine required,” “requires vaccination,” “must have vaccine,” and “vaccinated against.” In some cases, COVID-19 is not explicitly specified. Searches for jobs not requiring vaccination are defined as those containing “not,” “no,” or “don’t,” and “vaccine” or “vaccination.” 

Metropolitan- and occupational-sector-level regressions were weighted by raw sectoral job postings count and run with clustered standard errors by month from October 2021 to January 2022. Statistical significance was determined at the 0.05 level. Control variables included 2020 presidential election margin, percentage of Black, percentage of Asian, percentage of Hispanic, percentage of people over 25 with a bachelor’s degree, percentage of people over 65, and the log of the 2019 population estimate. Voting patterns for metros come from Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. All other control variables come from the American Community Survey

Compositional adjustment in the first graph of this piece was performed by adjusting a metro’s occupational sectoral share to the national occupational average. The national average was calculated from June 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021.

Indeed no longer allows Colorado jobs that ask the candidate to disclose their previous salaries. This has a meaningful effect on our postings in the state of Colorado and its metros, though not on our national totals.

This blog post is based on publicly available information on the Indeed US website and any other countries if named in the post. Unless specified otherwise, it is limited to the United States, is not a projection of future events, and includes both paid and unpaid job solicitations. US Armed Forces job postings are excluded.