In August, we reported that long COVID was significantly impacting the workforce. In September, President Joe Biden declared the pandemic was over. There certainly are some good signs that we’re entering a new stage of dealing with COVID, but we really don’t know how this virus will impact society long-term. According to Yahoo!Finance, some economists estimate that long COVID may impact the job market for years to come.
Long COVID impacting both employees and employers
Many employers are experiencing a labor shortage. Long COVID exacerbates this situation. With an estimated four million Americans out of work due to long COVID, staffing issues are not going to get any better in 2023. Brian DeChesare, the founder of Breaking Into Wall Street, told Yahoo!Finance,
“I expect many businesses will be crumbling under the economic and staffing issues they face.”
Long COVID is placing a huge economic burden on businesses. It’s not just losing employees, but also the impact on productivity, the healthcare costs, and the loss of quality of life. Employees with long COVID are also struggling in the job market. Long COVID was added as a recognized condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act in July 2021. It can be difficult to find a job with the flexibility to deal with the symptoms. Employees are also losing out.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is also referred to as post-COVID or chronic COVID conditions. People with long COVID can experience a wide range of health problems following the infection that can last weeks or months, even years after infection. As the pandemic is still so new, “years” is still unknown. According to the CDC, symptoms of long COVID are “hard to explain and manage.”
The economic costs of long COVID
The Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization, estimates that long COVID translates to an estimated $168 to $230 billion in lost earnings annually. This is about 1% of the U.S. gross domestic product. The Institution further estimates that if the long COVID population continues to increase by 10% each year, in just 10 years, we could be seeing up to half a trillion dollars lost annually.
What can employers do?
Scientists and doctors are still researching treatment and prevention options for long COVID. Employers may not be able to help in that regard, but they can strengthen their employees and ultimately, the job market.
- Create an open environment where employees can request accommodations without worrying about job loss or discrimination.
- Provide options for those employees who are coping with long COVID – remote or flexible work options.
- Evaluate benefits and leave policies.
- Support employees with chronic illnesses or other disabilities.
COVID is here to stay, whether we’re dealing with a pandemic or not. Regardless of the politics, COVID is impacting the job market and employers are going to need to deal with it more proactively. It’s not just economics. Learning to accommodate chronic illnesses like long COVID is good business.