Aug 25, 2022 - Health

Millions out of work from long COVID: Brookings

Illustration of COVID cells arranged in a radial pattern with red circles overlaid on the image.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

As many as 4.1 million people may remain out of work due to long COVID symptoms, according to a new estimate from Katie Bach, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Why it matters: That figure, which incorporates four new questions about long COVID from the Census Household Pulse Survey, is more than twice an earlier estimate and could help explain the lingering labor shortages in America.

  • It's also particularly concerning since we still don't know why some people get long COVID, how long those symptoms can linger and how to treat the condition.

By the numbers: About 16.3 million working-age Americans, or about 8%, reported they have long COVID.

  • Between 1.8 million and 4.1 million can't work because of it.
  • The annual cost of those lost wages alone is around $170 billion a year.

"If long COVID patients don't begin recovering at greater rates, the economic burden will continue to rise," Bach wrote.

Go deeper