The numbers are in—and they’re concerning.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in January 2022, about 3.6 million people didn’t work because of an illness, injury or medical problem or appointment.
The BLS notes that the number of workers who are absent or cut back hours regularly spikes form December through March, when cold and flu season peaks.
However, last month stands out because the numbers are the highest they’ve been during the pandemic. January 2022 also saw COVID-19 records shattered with more than 1 million cases reported on a single day in the U.S., largely attributed to the even more contagious and transmissible omicron variant.
Of the 129.7 million people who usually worked full time (defined as 35 hours or more), about 4.2 million (3.3%) were working part time in January 2022 because of an illness, injury or medical problem or appointment. This is one-tenth of a percent below the highest percentage, set in January 1978 with 3.4%.
Work absence data are obtained from the BLS’s Current Population Survey and are not seasonally adjusted.
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