IFS - 110,000 workers missing from work as a result of long COVID at a cost of £1.5 billion a year in lost earnings
The number of people with long COVID (defined as reporting symptoms more than four weeks after infection) has been on the rise – with the latest ONS figures showing that there were almost 2 million people with the condition as of May 2022, around double the number a year before.
New IFS research shows that having long COVID causes one in ten sufferers who were in work to stop work while they have the condition. It is likely that around 110,000 people are missing from work at any one time as a result of long COVID (i.e. working no hours at all, generally because they are on sick leave), at a cost of almost £1.5 billion in lost earnings per year. The research also finds that those who were less well off before the pandemic are more likely to suffer from long COVID.
By examining how outcomes have changed since before the pandemic for long COVID sufferers and similar individuals without the condition, the research shows that:
- Current levels of long COVID could be causing 110,000 workers to be missing from the labour market, i.e. working no hours at all. The vast majority of them are likely to be on sick leave, rather than losing their job entirely.
- On average, those who stop work because of long COVID are losing £1,100 per month in earnings. Across the country this adds up to almost £1.5 billion per year.
- Compared to those without long COVID, those who are suffering from the condition were, pre-pandemic, more likely to be claiming benefits (41% versus 28%), be in poverty (25% versus 19%) and live in social housing (25% versus 17%). While previous research has shown that women, those with pre-existing medical conditions and those in poorer parts of the country were more likely to be hit, this is the first evidence showing that long COVID is more prevalent among deprived individuals.
- Long COVID’s effects are quite persistent, with evidence of sufferers still missing from work at least three months after infection, though by the six-month mark the effects are considerably smaller and most have returned to work.
Tom Wernham, a Research Economist at IFS and an author of the report, said:
‘Though acute COVID is no longer the severe threat to public health and the economy that it once was, the impact of long COVID has continued to grow over time, with almost 2 million now suffering from the condition. Our research suggests that for a significant minority of long COVID sufferers, the condition has severe effects not only on their health but on their ability to do paid work. The rising rate of long COVID could therefore put additional strain on families during the cost of living crisis, especially as long COVID is more common among poorer families, as well as drag on a struggling economy – we estimate there are 110,000 workers missing from work as a result.’
Latest News from
IEA Director General responds to Kwasi Kwarteng’s conference speech04/10/2022 11:25:00
Mark Littlewood, Director General at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs responds to Kwasi Kwarteng’s conference speech
JRF in Scotland asks what more evidence governments need to target help at those who need it most as huge survey reveals a nation in ‘crisis-mode’03/10/2022 10:25:00
Joseph Rowntree Foundation in Scotland asks what more evidence governments need to target help at those who need it most as huge survey reveals a nation in ‘crisis-mode’
IEA - The Shadow Chancellor’s policy agenda was disappointing and predictable28/09/2022 11:25:00
Matthew Lesh, head of public policy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs comments on Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ speech at the Labour Party’s annual conference
IEA comments ahead of Friday’s mini budget: “an opportunity to reset the agenda”22/09/2022 09:20:00
Matthew Lesh, Head of Public Policy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs comments ahead of this Friday’s fiscal event
IEA expert responds to Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses21/09/2022 16:20:00
Andy Mayer, Chief Operating Officer and energy analyst at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs comments on the announcement of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme
UK business investment fell to lowest rate in the G7 after corporation tax cut to 19 per cent, IPPR finds21/09/2022 11:15:00
The UK had the lowest rate of business investment of any G7 economy in 2019, according to new analysis by IPPR of OECD figures, despite also having the lowest corporation tax rate for the previous two decades. The tax on companies’ profits was reduced to 19 per cent, its lowest level this century, in 2017.
Dip in inflation shouldn’t let the Bank of England off the hook, says IEA expert14/09/2022 14:05:00
Julian Jessop, economics fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, commented on the latest ONS inflation figures
IPPR responds to inflation figures14/09/2022 13:05:00
Dr George Dibb, head of the Centre for Economic Justice at IPPR, responded to the ONS August CPI figures