(NewsNation) — More people are calling out sick from work these days, which is a phenomenon Lydia Moynihan — business contributor for WFXR’s sister station, NewsNation — calls a sign of changing social mores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A couple of years ago, people came to the office all the time with a cold, and they were sneezing and coughing, had a fever, and you said, ‘Oh, I hope you get better soon,’ and you maybe tried to stay far away from them,” Moynihan said.
However, these days, after dealing with coronavirus, she said, someone with those symptoms “wouldn’t be allowed to come into the office.”
“I think we have such a different perspective of what is appropriate in terms of illness at an office, and I think that’s really driving this change,” Moynihan said.
From June 29 to July 11, Census Bureau data shows that around 3.9 million people said they didn’t work because they were sick with COVID symptoms or were caring for an ill loved one. About 1.8 million missed work for those reasons at the same time last year.
All of this just compounds a labor shortage issue that had already been troubling American businesses for some time.
Axios reports that now that the highly contagious BA.5 variant of COVID is spreading in the U.S., companies already affected by a labor shortage may not be able to keep up. Since February 2020, 3.2 million people have left the workforce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, and there are 11.3 million jobs open compared to 5.9 million unemployed workers.
“It’s going to be an issue for businesses, especially in service businesses like restaurants, where they’re trying to make sure that customers are still being served, and do that with fewer hands on deck,” Moynihan said.
States have been taking steps to fill holes in the labor market by hiring teenagers, increasing pay and creating worker incentives, according to Axios.