Scraping in the time of coronavirus

By late March, two weeks into the official pandemic, requests for unemployment assistance were setting records in Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey issued orders to “stay home, stay healthy, stay connected” on March 30, and most restaurants and stores had closed down. Still, it was unclear which industries and employers were laying off workers due to covid-19.

This walkthrough gathers the data to help answer that question via a scraping exercise in R. We’ll go from a clunky government website to a single data table that shows the business impact, still ongoing, of coronavirus over time.

WARN listings

Companies that have at least 100 employees are required by law to submit notices to the state under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. There are other specifics under the law, but the 100-employee rule broadly holds - and some companies with less than 100 employees issue notices, too. WARN does not apply to government agencies.

Here’s how the state organizes listings online: