Disease kills 500,000 UK workers

Half a million people have left the workforce in the last three years due to chronic illness.

The number of people unable to work due to a long-term condition rose from 2 million in the spring of 2019 to 2.5 million this summer, according to an analysis published by the Office for National Statistics.

Covid-19 has accelerated an existing trend. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 360,000 people have been forced out of the workforce because they have a health condition that affects their ability to work.

Long-term illness now accounts for the 28 per cent of people who are “economically inactive”, meaning they are not working or looking for work, up from 25 per cent at the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Unemployment rates have fallen near a record low of 3.5 percent as more people drop out of the workforce altogether rather than seek new jobs. A total of some 600,000 people have left the workforce over the course of the coronavirus crisis.

More than two-thirds of workers who become inactive due to a long-term illness were already inactive for another reason. The most common reason was taking time off to care for family or home, which accounted for 22 percent, or 185,000 people.

Another 21 percent were temporarily ill or injured before reporting long-term illness. Another 18 percent were retired and 12 percent were students.

The UK is the only rich country to have seen a sustained rise in economic inactivity since the pandemic. It is on track to be the only country among its peers in the G7 and other large economies to have a lower share of workers in employment next year than it did before Covid, according to research by the Institute for Labor Studies (IES), the think tank. , and Abrdon Financial Fairness Trust.

The report found that the drop in the size of the workforce was also due to fewer people returning to work. There has been a 215,000 increase in the number of people who have been out of work for more than five years due to health problems.

Tony Wilson, director of IES and one of the authors of the report, said: “The most important factor when we look at how long people have been out of work is the growth in the number of people out of work for more than three years. .

“That could mean that people who are out of work are getting sicker, or that people who are out of work find it more difficult to return to work and are less likely to return than before. I think it’s a bit of both.”

There has also been a 100,000 increase in the number of people with health problems who have never worked. The increase in the number of students represents two thirds of this group; disabled youth who have never worked make up the remaining third.

“Young people are less likely to be sicker now than they were, more likely to find it more difficult to get jobs for reasons such as lack of access to health care and employers not being supportive in thinking about job design. and how you can support people at work,” Wilson said.

The ONS said a greater understanding of the impacts of NHS waiting times, long Covid and an aging workforce was needed to explain the exodus of the workforce due to illness.


Leave a Comment