The impact of Long COVID on the UK workforce

Darja Reuschke, Donald Houston

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Abstract

COVID-19 is more likely to lead to Long COVID among persons of working age. We outline the first estimates of the impact of Long Covid on employment in the UK. Using estimates of cumulative prevalence of Long COVID, activity-limiting Long COVID in the working-age population and of economic inactivity and job loss resulting from Long COVID, we provide evidence of the profound impact of Long COVID on national labour supply. Since the start of the pandemic, cumulatively 2.9 million people of working age (7% of the total) in the UK have had, or still have, Long COVID. This figure will continue to rise due to very high infection rates in the Omicron wave. Since the beginning of the pandemic, economic inactivity due to long-term sickness has risen by 120,900 among the working-age population, fuelling the UK’s current labour shortage. An estimated 80,000 people have left employment due to Long COVID. We argue that governments need to tackle the twin challenges to public health and labour supply and provide employment protection and financial support for individuals and firms affected by Long COVID.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Economics Letters
Early online date6 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 6 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • labour supply
  • health
  • employer costs
  • coronavirus pandemic
  • COVID-19

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