Since the outbreak, the number of persons on long-term sick leave has increased by about a fifth.
According to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Labour Force Survey, a whopping 2.54 million working-age adults indicated they were too ill to hold down a job this spring, an increase of 18% from spring 2019.
It suggests that throughout that time, disease may have reduced the labor force by around 400,000 people.
There are currently two people for every person officially classified as unemployed – just under 1.3 million – who claim they are unable to work due to illness or disability.
The vast majority of those who claim they are unable to work — 2.3 million (92%) – are classified as long-term sick.
Between 2012 and 2019, this figure hovered around two million, but it has began to climb following the outbreak.
It’s unclear why the sickness rate has climbed so dramatically – the last time it exceeded 2.5 million was in 2005. Some believe it reflects the pandemic’s bleak physical impact, with lengthy Covid greatly limiting people’s capacity to work.
According to the ONS, two million people of all ages were affected in early May.
Others believe Covid has helped the development of a workaholic mindset, which has been aided by the ‘work from home’ culture and government choices to dole out significant sums of money, such as furlough money.
Long Covid appears to hurt the UK more than countries such as France, Spain, Canada, and Australia, according to Vicky Redwood of the consultancy Capital Economics.
The ONS statistics match those from a YouGov poll conducted for the Resolution Foundation, a left-wing think tank, last September.
Because of ‘long Covid or fear of the virus,’ it is predicted that 600,000 working-age persons have quit the workforce or are working reduced hours.
More than half of under-55s identified mental health as the most prevalent pandemic-related reason for not working.
Despite being the age group most at danger, the over-55s have been the least likely to quit or reduce their work hours due to Covid.
Compared to more than four percent of 18 to 24-year-olds, less than two percent of over-55s claimed they had done so.