Long COVID is Responsible for Keeping Most People Away from Work

(STL.News) As you study the news related to a pandemic, you will learn about missing workers and labor shortages.  It is making the headlines today.  And the question that almost everyone has in their mind is – why is this happening?

In January 2022, there was a report about the impact of long COVID on the labor market.  There wasn’t much data about this condition.  Hence, the report used multiple studies to come up with a conservative estimate.  It was estimated that close to 1.6 million full-time workers have a chance to get out of work because of long COVID.  Since there are 10.6 million unfilled jobs this time, the long COVID gets accounted for 15% of the labor shortage.  Today, the following facts are true:

  • Close to 16 million Americans who are in the working age suffer from long COVID.
  • About 2 to 4 million are away from work because of long Covid.
  • Also, the lost wages’ annual expense is approximately $170 billion annually.

All these effects have a chance to get worse in the case the United States doesn’t take the necessary steps.  One of them is to manage the interstate travel to curb down the spread of the virus.  According to MyBiosource, 36% of people in Alabama feel that people who have an increased risk of COVID should not enter the state.

16 million Americans of the working age suffer from long covid

According to the survey by Census Bureau, there were close to 16.3 million people who comprise the working-age Americans with long COVID.  The report resorts to the other data instead of the Current Population Survey that is usually more robust.  It is because the Current Population Survey asks about almost six particular manifestations of the disability, that will identify a few situations of the long COVID.

A recent study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that close to 24.1% of the people have suffered from the virus and witnessed symptoms for over three months and sometimes even more.  The CDC further asserts that 70% of Americans have suffered from the deadly virus infection.  And in case 24.1% possessed long COVID, close to 34 million people of working-age Americans also have witnessed the same.

That aside, the Minneapolis Fed study highlighted that close to 50% of the respondents recovered from long COVID.  In case you leave the 50%, you have close to 17 million people who might be suffering from long COVID.

About 4 million workers don’t have work.

Employer accommodations, mild symptoms, and the essential financial need can ensure that people still work even when they are suffering from long COVID.  To understand that, you need three data points.

First, you have to know the people who left their offices because of long covid or have minimized their working hours.  The estimates always differ, like:

  • According to the Minneapolis Fed study, about 25.9% of people who have long COVID will face some impact in their work due to it.
  • The TUC survey in the U.K. found that close to 20% of the people who have long COVID aren’t working.  About 16% of the people are working for reduced hours.
  • Another study in The Lancet that got published recently found that close to 22% of people with long COVID can’t work because of bad health.

Second, by now, you must know the number of people with long covid has also been working.  And since the reports that have been published so far focused on non-working-age Americans, it makes sense to use the group’s labor force involvement rate, which is close to 75%.  Hence, it is safe to assume that of the 16.3 million Americans of working age, and who have long COVID, approximately 12.2 million are in the labor force.

Finally, when it comes to the third point, it is essential to estimate the minimized hours for which people suffering from long COVID kept working.  Based on the Minneapolis Fed study, it was discovered, that, on average, people, brought down their hours to almost 10 hours a week.  By using this number and a 40-hour week, it is safe to assume that all these workers brought down their overall working hours by 25%.  ‘

Lastly, making use of the TUC, Minneapolis Fed, and the Lancelet data on the percentage of work minimizations, you will realize that 3 million, 2 million, and also 4 million full-time equivalent workers got forced to move out from the labor force as they were suffering from long COVID.  And the mid-point of this estimation, which is 3 million equivalent workers working full time, comprises of a total 1.8% of the complete U.S. civilian labor force.  Once you have these details, you can have a clear understanding of the way the long covid has impacted the working population.