Up to 4 million people may be out of work because of long COVID in the U.S, according to a report published this week by the Brookings Institution.
In lost wages, that could add up to at least $170 billion per year, the report suggests.
The research looked at people who worked full time, or the equivalent of full-time hours, before they got long COVID: an estimated 12 million people in the U.S., according to federal data.
From there, it estimated how many people were out of work or working reduced hours because of persistent health issues following a Covid infection. The report used the definition of long Covid from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey: symptoms lasting three months or longer that were not present pre-Covid.
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Several surveys have attempted to quantify the impact of long COVID on employment. A working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis estimated last month that 26% of people with long Covid were out of work or had reduced their working hours as of mid-2021. An international survey found that 22% of people with long COVID weren't working because of their illness and 45% had reduced hours as of 2020. And a U.K. survey found that 16% of people with long COVID had reduced hours and 20% were on paid sick leave between April and May 2021.