New Report Estimates One Billion Work Days Lost in 2022 Due to COVID-19

17 Jan, 2023 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – While many would consider us past the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report from Mckinsey & Company proposes the pandemic could explain the persistent US worker shortage, and suggests that employers may be experiencing the burden on productivity for several more years given the new strains cropping up.

It’s estimated that for each case of COVID-19, diagnosed or undocumented, results in 1.0 to 1.5 missed days of productive work. The analysts point out that on its own, that total doesn’t create a catastrophe for an employer and employee, however overall the number is staggering. 

According to estimates from the Institute for Health, there were between 315 million to 690 million COVID-19 cases, most of which were not captured in public health statistics. Based on those numbers, between 315 million and 1.05 billion worker days were lost to COVID-19 last year, which is equivalent to 1.3 million to 4.3 million workers dropping out of the workforce for the full year. Overall, McKinsey analysts estimate that the availability of US workers was reduced by 2.6 percent. The reduction in available workers created a burden on productivity that the analysts fear could have an overall impact for the next few years. 

COVID-19 can affect productivity in four ways, which includes direct missed workdays from the illness, missed workdays due to Long COVID or side effects, missed workdays due to quarantine, and missed workdays due to caring for a dependent family member. In 2022, the analyst’s highest estimates speculate there were 631 million workdays lost to mild or moderate COVID, and 147 million days to Long COVID. By comparison, low estimates show 191 million workdays lost to mild or moderate COVID, and 45 million days to Long COVID.

The analysts estimate that between 60 million to 197 million workdays were lost in 2022 due to compliance with isolation recommendations. Between 4 million and 14 million workdays were lost due to dependent care, and between 16 million and 54 million workdays were lost due to severe cases of COVID. 

The analysts believe that employers with the lowest number of remote workers or at least remote potential will feel the biggest impact in their productivity and bottom line. While management, technical, finance and other services have a high percentage of remote work, other industries such as food, agriculture, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and construction have lower percentages and could ultimately see the biggest worker shortages. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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