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Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, Compensation, Occupational Requirements, and Work Stoppages Statistics

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting daily life for the entire country. The President declared a national emergency in the United States on March 13, 2020.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is open for business and is continuing to assess how this national emergency affects our operations and data products. How COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts may affect key economic indicators produced by BLS will depend, in part, on efforts taken by our various data partners. We have provided information below about our programs and will continue to update this information to keep you informed.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) publishes estimates of incidence rates and counts of workplace injuries and illnesses. It also provides detailed case and demographic data for cases that involve one or more days away from work and for days of job transfer and restriction for select industries. The news release for 2019 data was published November 4, 2020.

  • Will data collection for SOII be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? SOII data are collected through various means but mostly through the BLS Internet Data Collection Facility (IDCF). Data collection for the 2019 SOII continued through IDCF during the pandemic. However, data collection was affected both by the availability of data collection staff and survey respondents. Despite these challenges, data collection activities were completed and results of the 2019 SOII were published on schedule. The pandemic continues to affect employers and SOII data collectors. Data collection challenges are expected to continue during the 2020 SOII that begins in January 2021.
  • Will BLS attempt to capture COVID-19 cases for the reference year 2020 SOII? BLS will publish results of the 2020 SOII in the fall of 2021. The SOII relies on OSHA recordkeeping requirements, which mandate employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log (29 CFR Part 1904). Employers use this information to respond to the SOII. COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties and meets OSHA criteria. While the SOII may capture some recordable COVID-19 cases reported by employers, the SOII will not produce estimates specifically covering COVID-19 illnesses. COVID-19 cases will be coded in Nature code 3299 – “Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified,” which can be found in the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) publishes a complete count of work-related fatal injuries and descriptive data on their circumstances. The CFOI news release for 2019 data was published December 16, 2020.

  1. Will data collection for CFOI be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? CFOI uses a variety of data sources to identify and substantiate fatal work injuries. (See the Handbook of Methods section on data sources.) Data collection was affected by the availability of data collection staff and source documents. Despite these challenges, the program was able to obtain and process source data. CFOI results for 2019 were published December 16, 2020.
  2. Will BLS attempt to capture COVID-19 cases for CFOI in 2020? BLS will publish results from the 2020 CFOI in late 2021. Fatal occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, are out of scope for CFOI unless precipitated by an acute injury. It is possible that a COVID-19-related fatality resulting from an acute injury may be in scope and appear on the CFOI file. However, information on COVID-19-related fatalities in source data is inconsistent and often unavailable. Therefore, BLS will not attempt to publish COVID-19-specific data.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Employment Cost Index

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is produced from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS is an establishment-based survey that provides comprehensive measures of (1) employer costs for employee compensation, including wages and salaries and benefits, (2) compensation trends, and (3) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans.

  1. How are compensation costs calculated for absent workers? The ECI is intended to indicate how the average compensation costs to employers change over time if the industrial and occupational composition of employment had not changed from the base period. Costs are collected for the pay period that includes the 12th of March, June, September, and December. The costs for workers temporarily absent are included in the ECI.
  2. Will data collection for ECI be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? The ECI data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period. See the historical response rates for the ECI.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECI estimates? The primary goal for the ECI is to provide accurate estimates of the change in the cost of total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECI estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy. Comparisons of compensation cost changes for a specific reference period against those of recent periods may provide a general indication of the impacts to the ECI. BLS publishes measures of reliability along with not seasonally adjusted 3-month and 12-month percent changes. See Technical Information about Standard Errors for Employment Cost Index Estimates and the database query tools.
  4. How will COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts affect seasonally adjusted estimates? Seasonal factors are based on exhibited seasonality for estimates over the past 10 years. Seasonal factors for 2021 and revisions to 5 years of seasonally adjusted series were released with the March 2021 Employment Cost Index on April 30, 2021. See Employment Cost Index: Annual seasonal adjustment process.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation are produced from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS is an establishment-based survey that provides comprehensive measures of (1) employer costs for employee compensation, including wages and salaries and benefits, (2) compensation trends, and (3) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans. The March 2021 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation was released June 17, 2021.

  1. How are compensation costs calculated for absent workers? Employer Costs for Employee Compensation provide compensation costs per employee hour worked for all workers within selected jobs. Costs are collected for the pay period that includes the 12th of March, June, September, and December. The costs for workers temporarily absent are included in Employer Costs for Employee Compensation. 
  2. Will data collection for Employer Costs for Employee Compensation be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? Employer Costs for Employee Compensation data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation estimates? The primary goal for Employer Costs for Employee Compensation is to provide accurate estimates of the cost of total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, including impacts from employment, changes in hours worked, and industry and occupational composition in the national economy.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on Employee Benefits in the United States

Employee Benefits in the United States is published annually and provides information from the National Compensation Survey on the coverage, provisions, and features of employer-sponsored benefits.

  1. Will data collection be affected? The data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. Data collection may be affected by the availability of survey respondents.

  2. Will data be published as scheduled? The annual news release and corresponding files will be released as announced on the release calendar.

  3. Will estimates be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and response? The majority of the benefit coverage, provisions, and features of employer-sponsor benefits were collected prior to the start of the pandemic in the United States. Temporary changes are excluded from data collection. Estimates reflect the results for the specific reference period.  The March 2020 estimates did not show impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency response efforts. However, subsequent releases may be affected if respondents are not available to report data or temporary plan changes become permanent.

  4. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? In June 2020, a supplemental question was added to the National Compensation Survey to understand private industry establishment changes to sick leave policies. The results from that question were published in supplemental data measuring the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on sick leave plans.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Occupational Requirements Survey

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is an establishment-based survey that provides job-related information regarding physical demands; environmental conditions; cognitive and mental demands; and education, training, and experience requirements for jobs in the U.S. economy. The questions and answers below provide further information on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2020 Occupational Requirements Survey news release.

  1. Was data collection for ORS affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? Data for the Occupational Requirements Survey are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists discontinued personal visits in mid-March 2020 and relied on the other data-collection methods. The first sample group was collected between September 2018 and August 2019, and the second sample group was collected between August 2019 and July 2020. The response rate for data collected from the two sample groups was 65.1 percent.
  2. How did data-collection methods change because of the COVID-19 pandemic? On May 6, 2020, BLS instructed field economists to consider pandemic-related changes to be temporary and to collect jobs as they were performed before the pandemic unless the respondent was certain changes were permanent for all workers in the job. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) solely to prevent or minimize exposure to COVID-19 is excluded as exposure to biohazards are not collected as part of ORS.
  3. Did ORS estimation methods change because of the COVID-19 pandemic? There were no changes to estimation methods for the 2020 ORS data.
  4. How are job requirements calculated for absent workers? The ORS is collected by field economists speaking with survey respondents to determine the requirements of jobs and not individual workers. Estimates reflect all workers in selected jobs and are weighted to represent the national economy, as described in the calculation section of the Handbook of Methods.
  5. Are there measures of reliability for ORS data? To help users evaluate the reliability of ORS estimates, an explanation of the use of standard errors is available, and standard errors for all published estimates are available through the BLS database and Excel dataset (XLSX).
  6. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response on ORS estimates? The primary goal for the ORS is to provide accurate estimates of job requirements. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on future estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, including impacts from employment, changes in hours worked, and industry and occupational composition in the national economy.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Work Stoppages Data

The Work Stoppages program provides monthly and annual data and analysis of major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers lasting one full shift or longer. The monthly and annual data show the establishment and union(s) involved in the work stoppage along with the location, the number of workers, and the days of idleness.

Last Modified Date: July 30, 2021