Hispanic Health News
Americans Miss 100 Million Work Days and Suffer Nearly $7 Billion in Lost Wages During Flu Season
Photo: New Walgreens Flu Impact Report
New findings show far-reaching impact of influenza on workplace, economy and family
A new Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG) survey examining the effects of influenza on people’s everyday lives and the economy suggests that last flu season resulted in 100 million lost works days, along with nearly $7 billion in lost wages and 32 million missed school days, among many other findings released today. These findings, the first of a two-part Walgreens Flu Impact Report series, underscore the ramifications the flu and ill-timed illness can have beyond people’s health – from missed work and lost income to parenting challenges.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average 13 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu every year, with active flu seasons seeing closer to 20 percent, or more than 62 million Americans.
“When it comes to the flu and your own personal calendar, there’s no planning for the many things it could impact,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “Immunization rates have climbed and last season more than 40 percent of the U.S. population received flu shots. This report helps to reinforce the importance of getting a flu shot and how that small step toward protection can provide peace of mind when it comes to other important aspects of our lives.”
The Walgreens survey was fielded Sept. 1-8, 2011, to a Vision Critical Springboard America panel to a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Americans age 18 or over. Flu Impact Report results were weighted on key demographics to allow projection of results to the entire U.S. adult population. Results are based on self-reported instances of the flu and flu-like symptoms. Projections incorporate the latest data available for average compensation and hours worked from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, population data and projections from the United States Census and compared against beta Flu Work Loss models developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flu and the Workplace
To go or not to go: that is the question when it comes to working with the flu. According to the Walgreens Flu Impact Report, in addition to the 100 million work days lost due to flu-related illness last season, more than one-third of those days would have been uncompensated with the costs borne by the employee, resulting in $6.8 billion in lost wages.
When it comes to sick time and employers’ costs, nearly two-thirds of total missed work days would have been employer-paid, resulting in a cost of more than $10 billion to companies’ bottom lines due to lost productivity. In addition to missed work days, nearly 2 million business trips were also canceled last season, based on survey projections.
And while some followed doctor recommendations and stayed home from work while sick, an overwhelming majority – nearly 80 percent of those surveyed who got the flu last season – say they at some point still went into work. As for “worker’s remorse,” 60 percent were at least fairly concerned they would expose others to illness.
For some working parents, the 32 million school days that the report projects were missed due to flu last season can also translate to missed work days and other challenges. More than one-third of respondents with children say they need to make alternative childcare arrangements when their children are sick, while 40 percent would need to take time off from work to care for a sick child.
Other Flu Costs
Taking into account missed work days, all or parts of vacations, childcare costs, doctor visits and other related costs, nearly one-third of respondents spent between $251 and $1,000 on treating the flu last season.