Millions of Americans unable to work due to long COVID-19 symptoms

Posted at 8:19 AM, Aug 29, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Millions of Americans are stuck with lingering COVID-19 symptoms.

An estimated 16 million working-age Americans suffer from long COVID-19, according to Census Bureau data.

Between 2 million and 4 million of those adults are unable to work because of the condition, according to a recent report from the non-profit Brookings Institution that examines the disease's effect on the nation's labor force.

Symptoms of Long COVID include extreme tiredness and fatigue; shortness of breath; difficulty thinking or concentrating, muscle pain and more.

All of these symptoms can impair workers' ability to do their job.

The condition doesn't only take a toll on an individual's health, but has economic implications as well, with sufferers losing at least $170 billion a year in missed wages, the think-tank found.

The estimate of Long COVID sufferers' lost wages doesn't take into account other costs, such as medical treatments and lower productivity for those who continue to work but at a reduced capacity.

Long COVID's impact may also explain some of the labor market shortages the nation has experienced during the pandemic.

The U.S. today has 600,000 fewer workers compared with February 2020, just before the economic shutdown that led to widespread layoffs and job cuts.