COVID-19 led to the most employee sick days and absenteeism in 20 years

According to a new survey compiled from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the most cases of worker sick days and absenteeism in the past two decades.

Findings from the government’s Current Population Survey were analyzed by USA Today, which reports they showed that an average of 1.5 million people a month in 2020 missed work for their “own illness/injury/medical problems” — a rate more that 45% higher than in the past 20 years.  

Also, the rate of people who skipped work for child care reasons — either because their children were ill, or more commonly, because schools were closed — surged 250% over the 20-year-average. The paper notes that as many as 67,000 Americans a month cited childcare issues as the reason they had to miss work. 

For comparison, from 2000 to 2019, the highest number of workers to miss work for unspecified reasons was 1.27 million.  In 2020, the average was 2.5 million.  The latter number could show that millions of others stayed home out of fear of contracting COVID-19, particularly in the months were infection spikes were being reported.