Omicron Wave Drives Surge Of Workers Calling In Sick, Working Through Illness

Almost 8.8 million Americans were out sick or caring for someone with Covid-19 in early January

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Omicron-related absenteeism in businesses such as restaurants and factories risks further disrupting the economy.

Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg News

The Omicron wave of coronavirus cases is weighing on the U.S. labor force, keeping millions of people home sick while others say they are working through illnesses.

This double impact from the biggest surge of Covid-19 illnesses so far in the pandemic comes as employers have struggled with an unusually tight labor market and an unemployment rate that is approaching pre-pandemic levels. Job openings have hovered at their highest-ever levels for months. Workers have quit at a record rate. Fewer people are in the workforce than before the pandemic began. Meanwhile, those who are working are getting bigger than usual pay increases amid the highest inflation in four decades.

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