A third of papers with an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more experienced layoffs last year, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

These 2020 layoffs exceed the roughly one-quarter of papers in the same circulation range that experienced layoffs in 2019 (many were the same papers). Large-market newspapers – those with a Sunday circulation of 250,000 or more – were the most likely to suffer layoffs in 2020, with more than half of them experiencing staff cuts. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, many small and medium-sized newspaper companies were able to apply for federal aid through the CARES Act. However, due to rules surrounding this loan program, many local newspapers owned by larger companies were not eligible to apply. During early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, many news media companies either delayed or avoided layoffs by first instituting cost-cutting measures such as furloughs or pay cuts.