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4.2 million workers have illness-related work absences in January 2018

March 29, 2018

About 4.2 million workers in January 2018 missed work because they had an illness, injury, or medical problem or appointment. That was higher than the number of workers who missed work for the same reasons in January of recent years. The last time more than 4 million workers had missed work for the same reasons in January was in 2013. About 2.9 million people in January 2018 who usually work full time worked part time because of an illness, injury, or medical problem or appointment. Another 1.3 million employed people did not work at all during the survey reference week for the same reasons.

Employed people who missed work because they had an illness, injury, or medical problem or appointment, January 2008 to February 2018, not seasonally adjusted
Month Usually work full time but at work part time Not at work during survey reference week

Jan 2008

2,505,000 1,019,000

Feb 2008

3,257,000 1,314,000

Mar 2008

2,462,000 1,073,000

Apr 2008

2,137,000 927,000

May 2008

1,754,000 978,000

Jun 2008

1,555,000 904,000

Jul 2008

1,406,000 928,000

Aug 2008

1,543,000 1,004,000

Sep 2008

1,797,000 1,039,000

Oct 2008

1,703,000 1,001,000

Nov 2008

1,881,000 1,092,000

Dec 2008

2,254,000 1,035,000

Jan 2009

2,262,000 1,040,000

Feb 2009

2,592,000 1,076,000

Mar 2009

2,213,000 1,014,000

Apr 2009

1,722,000 981,000

May 2009

1,754,000 971,000

Jun 2009

1,586,000 927,000

Jul 2009

1,436,000 923,000

Aug 2009

1,357,000 910,000

Sep 2009

1,053,000 988,000

Oct 2009

2,009,000 1,041,000

Nov 2009

1,809,000 989,000

Dec 2009

2,086,000 1,052,000

Jan 2010

2,306,000 1,008,000

Feb 2010

1,951,000 1,038,000

Mar 2010

2,006,000 1,023,000

Apr 2010

1,688,000 990,000

May 2010

1,945,000 974,000

Jun 2010

1,577,000 814,000

Jul 2010

1,309,000 882,000

Aug 2010

1,331,000 907,000

Sep 2010

1,796,000 901,000

Oct 2010

1,641,000 944,000

Nov 2010

1,592,000 891,000

Dec 2010

2,047,000 925,000

Jan 2011

1,762,000 953,000

Feb 2011

2,485,000 1,070,000

Mar 2011

2,040,000 1,014,000

Apr 2011

1,731,000 985,000

May 2011

1,761,000 862,000

Jun 2011

1,421,000 810,000

Jul 2011

1,298,000 806,000

Aug 2011

1,283,000 893,000

Sep 2011

1,664,000 906,000

Oct 2011

1,611,000 941,000

Nov 2011

1,544,000 849,000

Dec 2011

2,212,000 958,000

Jan 2012

2,164,000 930,000

Feb 2012

2,314,000 986,000

Mar 2012

2,070,000 917,000

Apr 2012

1,680,000 911,000

May 2012

1,766,000 934,000

Jun 2012

1,441,000 900,000

Jul 2012

1,220,000 863,000

Aug 2012

1,460,000 822,000

Sep 2012

1,614,000 882,000

Oct 2012

1,544,000 899,000

Nov 2012

1,729,000 880,000

Dec 2012

2,063,000 944,000

Jan 2013

2,853,000 1,202,000

Feb 2013

2,130,000 1,079,000

Mar 2013

2,112,000 1,027,000

Apr 2013

1,912,000 913,000

May 2013

1,574,000 947,000

Jun 2013

1,312,000 897,000

Jul 2013

1,166,000 862,000

Aug 2013

1,180,000 838,000

Sep 2013

1,611,000 874,000

Oct 2013

1,263,000 891,000

Nov 2013

1,557,000 888,000

Dec 2013

1,647,000 869,000

Jan 2014

2,365,000 1,006,000

Feb 2014

1,771,000 974,000

Mar 2014

1,916,000 1,034,000

Apr 2014

1,743,000 1,046,000

May 2014

1,587,000 873,000

Jun 2014

1,311,000 882,000

Jul 2014

1,089,000 823,000

Aug 2014

1,409,000 864,000

Sep 2014

1,604,000 931,000

Oct 2014

1,719,000 936,000

Nov 2014

1,636,000 1,026,000

Dec 2014

2,281,000 1,048,000

Jan 2015

2,488,000 989,000

Feb 2015

2,118,000 1,000,000

Mar 2015

2,116,000 1,032,000

Apr 2015

1,846,000 919,000

May 2015

1,514,000 948,000

Jun 2015

1,353,000 860,000

Jul 2015

1,350,000 864,000

Aug 2015

1,344,000 791,000

Sep 2015

974,000 889,000

Oct 2015

1,575,000 795,000

Nov 2015

1,513,000 874,000

Dec 2015

2,114,000 924,000

Jan 2016

1,885,000 1,003,000

Feb 2016

2,098,000 1,033,000

Mar 2016

2,062,000 1,020,000

Apr 2016

1,852,000 1,045,000

May 2016

1,693,000 1,062,000

Jun 2016

1,410,000 972,000

Jul 2016

1,160,000 986,000

Aug 2016

1,402,000 1,005,000

Sep 2016

1,672,000 996,000

Oct 2016

1,601,000 986,000

Nov 2016

1,325,000 1,009,000

Dec 2016

2,209,000 891,000

Jan 2017

2,455,000 1,075,000

Feb 2017

2,639,000 1,078,000

Mar 2017

1,842,000 1,065,000

Apr 2017

1,438,000 1,065,000

May 2017

1,660,000 903,000

Jun 2017

1,442,000 892,000

Jul 2017

1,191,000 908,000

Aug 2017

1,182,000 851,000

Sep 2017

1,637,000 805,000

Oct 2017

1,555,000 859,000

Nov 2017

1,506,000 897,000

Dec 2017

2,123,000 1,020,000

Jan 2018

2,871,000 1,283,000

Feb 2018

2,522,000 1,184,000

The number of workers who are absent because they have an illness, injury, or medical problem or appointment regularly spikes from December through March, coinciding with the peak in cold and flu seasons. Not all absent workers who reported they missed work because of an illness, injury, or medical problem or appointment were sick with a cold or the flu. The increase in absences during the winter months, however, likely reflects a spike in seasonal illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the severity of the flu seasons. Preliminary data suggest the 2017–18 season has been worse than in recent years.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. This report updates information in the July 2010 report, “Illness-related work absences during flu season” (PDF), by Terence M. McMenamin. Workers are counted as full time if they usually work 35 hours or more in a week and part time if they worked fewer than 35 hours during the survey reference week. These numbers do not include people who usually work part time but missed some work—although not the entire week—for an illness-related reason. They also exclude people who took time off but still worked at least 35 hours during the survey reference week.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, 4.2 million workers have illness-related work absences in January 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/4-point-2-million-workers-have-illness-related-work-absences-in-january-2018.htm (visited December 11, 2019).

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