Employee Health: What are the Best and Worst Industries?


At the beginning of 2020, many people were grateful for their health. However, unless they were experiencing a specific issue, thinking about their health was not top of mind. A Harris poll released in February 2020 found that the majority of U.S. workers reported that their overall health was good or excellent; they slept an average of 6.6 hours a night, worked 35 hours a week and exercised 6.9 hours a week. Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, those stats have changed for the negative. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people work longer hours, and they’re getting less sleep and exercise.

Zen Business looked at the health in the workplace for various industries. Based on available data from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Health Interview Survey, Zen Business studied the top 30 most prominent sectors in terms of workers to find which ones are the healthiest, which are the unhealthiest, and which industry has improved health in the most recent years of the survey. The study also does a look at industries that are impacted by the coronavirus. Workers who took part in the survey self-reported.

Five Industries with the Least Healthy Workers

The top five least healthy industries list includes workers who are considered essential employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing and residential care employees, at only 24.4% of those surveyed, consider themselves in good health. Healthcare workers have a higher possibility of contracting the coronavirus than any other industry. The least healthy industries are:

  1. Nursing and residential care
  2. General merchandise stores
  3. Miscellaneous manufacturing
  4. Food manufacturing
  5. Food service and drinking places

Five Industries with the Healthiest Employees

Survey respondents who described their health as very good or excellent most often came from the professional, scientific or technical services. They are likely more educated and earn a higher pay rate than those in the less healthy list. Education workers, who usually are required to stand all day, have also said they feel like they are in good health. The top healthiest industries are:

  1. Professional, scientific and technical services
  2. Education
  3. Wholesalers, durable goods
  4. Ambulatory health care services
  5. Motor vehicle & parts dealer

Most Improved or Worsened Health by Industry

The postal service employees reported the most improved health over the results in previous surveys. However, these workers, who are considered essential workers, are facing new health issues due to the pandemic that could impact how they see their health in future surveys.

On the other hand, repair and maintenance workers stated that they experienced worsened health in the past year. However, the survey didn’t find clear reasons why workers in this industry reported poorer health.

Missed Work Days Due to Employee Illness

Survey respondents reported taking just 2.6 sick days over a year. On the one hand, researchers thought that this does show a healthy workforce. However, it can also indicate that people are reluctant to use sick days even then they are feeling sick.

Postal service workers used more sick days (7.4) last year than any other of the top 30 industries studied. The transportation industry is a far second with using 4.6 days, and amusement, gambling, and recreation industries take an average 3.9 days.

The wholesale and nondurable goods industry takes the least amount of sick days (1.4). Machinery, manufacturing workers take on average, 1.5 sick days. On the opposite end, some industries, particularly hospitality, food manufacturing and food services, took zero sick days. However, it should be noted that the food industry is on the top five of the unhealthy industry list.

Courtesy of PolicyWire By AmTrust

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