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Employer-reported respiratory illnesses increase nearly 4,000 percent in 2020

November 05, 2021

There were 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2020, down from 2.8 million in 2019, a decrease of 5.7 percent.

 Total reported injury and illness case counts, private industry, 2019–20
Year Total reported cases Injuries Illnesses


2,814,000 2,686,800 127,200


2,654,700 2,110,100 544,600

The decline was due to a drop in injury cases, with private industry employers reporting 2.1 million nonfatal injuries in 2020, down from 2.7 million in 2019. At the same time, total reported illness cases more than quadrupled to 544,600 cases, up from 127,200 in 2019. In 2020, the incidence rate of total recordable cases in private industry was 2.7 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers.

Counts of cases of all illnesses and respiratory illnesses, private industry, 2016–20
Year All illnesses Respiratory illnesses


137,500 11,000


126,400 10,400


126,800 12,100


127,200 10,800


544,600 428,700

The increase in illness cases was driven by a nearly 4,000-percent increase in employer-reported respiratory illness cases in 2020 at 428,700, up from 10,800 in 2019. The rate of illness cases increased from 12.4 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2019 to 55.9 cases in 2020. The respiratory illness rate rose from 1.1 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2019 to 44.0 cases in 2020.

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. To learn more about injuries and illnesses in the workplace, see “Employer-reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2020.” We also have more charts on nonfatal work injuries and illnesses. For information about how COVID-19 data are reflected in the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, see our frequently asked questions on accessing data.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Employer-reported respiratory illnesses increase nearly 4,000 percent in 2020 at (visited July 21, 2024).

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