COVID-19 Costs Employers Nearly $1 Billion per Week due to Lost Time from Work According to Integrated Benefits Institute Analysis

Employees who get COVID-19 will lose an estimated $33.3 billion in wages

San Francisco, Dec. 20, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SAN FRANCISCO – December 20, 2021 – The cost to employers for absent workers due to COVID-19 is estimated to total over $78.4 billion over the past 22 months according to an analysis from the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) to quantify the broader productivity impacts of the pandemic. This is over a $25 billion increase since a previous analysis conducted by the health and productivity research non-profit in April 2021 and consistent with average losses approaching $1 billion per week.

IBI’s assessment includes potential sick leave wages, short-term disability payments and spending on employee benefits. The breakdown of costs is as follows:

Disability wage payments$16.6 billion
State disability insurance (specific to California and   
New York)
$2.2 billion
Sick leave wages$24.3 billion
Employee benefits$35.3 billion
Total Costs to Employers$78.4 billion

The states with the highest lost work time costs are California, Texas, and New York. Looking more closely, metropolitan areas that have the largest lost work time cost burden are New York-Newark- Jersey City; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana; and Chicago-Naperville-Joliet.

“As we continue to adapt and adjust to the new challenges that the omicron variant brings to employers and suppliers, it’s important now more than ever to look holistically at benefit costs,” said IBI President Kelly  McDevitt. “Medical, pharmacy, mental health and wellness costs are critically important, but productivity and presenteeism have become a lynchpin to successful attraction, retention, growth, and satisfaction.”

As of December 8, there were 49.3 million total cases of COVID-19 in the US. When looking at urban area trends, Miami’s case numbers are flattening, while Phoenix, Minneapolis and Detroit are steadily rising.

“The true cost of the COVID-19 pandemic to employers is far more than just the expense of workplace sanitization, testing, and masks,” said Joseph Aller, Director, Research and Analytics, IBI. “A holistic view of productivity presents a more accurate overall cost estimation.”

IBI used employment, wage and leave benefit data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and lost workday experiences contained in its own dataset of employer-sponsored disability claims to model lost work time impacts based on the total US COVID-19 case count. Population data from the US Census Bureau was also incorporated to reflect geographic variation in COVID-19 cases, employment patters, industry mix, and wages.

For more details, a regularly updated interactive map, as well as an infographic, are available on IBI’s website.

About Integrated Benefits Institute

The Integrated Benefit Institute’s independent research, industry-leading tools and data resources help companies link health-related programs to the outcomes that maximize the contributions of people to productivity and business performance. Founded in 1995, IBI is a national nonprofit research organization and business association serving 1,200 employer and supplier members and their 22 million employees. For additional information, please visit and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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