Shortage of U.S. WORKFORCE: Omicron Winter Causing Record Workforce Shortage

February 4, 2022

In the first half of January, an estimated 8.8 million U.S. workers had to stay home due to being infected with Covid-19 or caring for someone who became infected. This is not only an increase of over two million people year on year but also the biggest workforce shortage since the start of the pandemic as our chart indicates.

While the first corona winter hit the U.S. workforce hard with around 6.6 million employees being forced to skip work due to the virus in January, this can largely be attributed to the virus having free reign: The mass vaccination campaign started on December 14, 2020 and until the end of January, only roughly 37 million U.S. Americans had received one shot of the vaccine according to Our World in Data. The arrival of the Delta variant in April of 2021 was countered by a by then widespread inoculation drive; on April 1st, roughly 180 million doses had been issued, and at the height of Delta prevalence beginning August 2021, a total of 350 million vaccine shots had been administered. This is also reflected in the number of people calling in sick, with the numbers rising up to only 4.7 million in September despite the much more aggressive variant dominating new infections. Now, the Omicron variant has pushed out Delta over the course of one month, making up 97 percent of all new cases as of January 19. 

While Omicron is allegedly less lethal, its comparably milder symptoms are still forcing a growing number of people to stay home. When applied to essential members of the workforce like medical professionals and workers employed in the logistics, retail, and manufacturing sectors, this development may well cause a growing number of disruptions in the economy in the near future, further exacerbating the supply chain disruptions, resource shortages and resignation waves already in place.

Source: US Bureau & GWFM Research

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