The COVID-19 Outbreak and Food Production Workers: Who is at Risk?

This analysis is based on KFF analysis of the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS), 1-year file. The ACS includes a 1% sample of the US population; the subset of food production workers examined in this data note includes over 33,000 observations. We define the food production workforce as all individuals who earned at least $1,000 during the year and indicated that their job was in one of the food processing industry codes listed below. We include only adults age 18 and up in the analysis.

Table 1: Weighted and Unweighted Counts by Industry
Industry Code Industry Description Weighted Counts Unweighted Counts
170 Crop production                      1,010,087                            10,601
180 Animal production and aquaculture                        427,134                                4,970
1180 Animal slaughtering and processing                        521,694                                4,372
1370 Beverage manufacturing                        308,914                                2,790
1280 Seafood and other miscellaneous foods, n.e.c.                        253,120                                2,365
1270 Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing, except retail bakeries                        220,484                                1,872
1070 Animal food, grain and oilseed milling                        176,690                                1,858
1170 Dairy product manufacturing                        164,959                                1,771
1090 Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing                        173,583                                1,605
1080 Sugar and confectionery products                            95,651                                  899
1290 Not specified food industries                            32,206                                  289

We roll up food production industries related to animal production and processing into one category based on the following categories: animal production and aquaculture; animal slaughtering and processing; animal food, grain, and oilseed milling, and dairy product manufacturing. Similarly, we include beverage manufacturing; bakeries and tortilla manufacturing, except retail bakers; sugar and confectionary productions; and not specified food industries in the food manufacturing category.

The ACS asks respondents about their health insurance coverage at the time of the survey. Respondents may report having more than one type of coverage; however, we sort individuals into only one category of insurance coverage based on a hierarchy of coverage (detailed here).

The ACS divides the United States into Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs), or geographic areas representing at least 100,000 people. PUMA’s vary in size based on population density. The USDA Economic Research Service defines metro and non-metro areas. Using the USDA method, we identify 80% of the PUMAs as solely in non-metro areas, 9% containing metro areas, and 12% containing both metro and non-metro areas. We categorize the PUMAs containing both metro and non-metro areas based on where the majority of the population lives. Using this approach, we categorize a total of 14% of the population living in a PUMA was classified as a non-metro area.

Data Note Appendix

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