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Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, Compensation, Occupational Requirements, and Work Stoppages Statistics

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting daily life for the entire country. The President declared a national emergency in the United States on March 13, 2020.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is open for business and is continuing to assess how this national emergency affects our operations and data products. How COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts may affect key economic indicators produced by BLS will depend, in part, on efforts taken by our various data partners. We have provided information below about our programs and will continue to update this information to keep you informed.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries

The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) publishes estimates of incidence rates and counts of workplace injuries and illnesses. It also provides detailed case and demographic data for cases that involve one or more days away from work and for days of job transfer and restriction for select industries. The news release for 2020 data was published November 3, 2021.

  • Is data collection for SOII affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? SOII data are collected through various means but mostly through the BLS Internet Data Collection Facility (IDCF). Data collection for the SOII continued through IDCF during the pandemic. However, data collection for 2019 and 2020 was affected both by the availability of data collection staff and survey respondents. Despite these challenges, data collection activities were completed and results of the 2019 and 2020 SOII were published on schedule. The pandemic continues to affect employers and SOII data collectors. Data collection challenges are expected to continue as long as impacts from the pandemic persist .
  • Does BLS capture COVID-19 cases in the SOII? BLS published results of the 2020 SOII on November 3, 2021. The SOII relies on OSHA recordkeeping requirements, which mandate employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log (29 CFR Part 1904). Employers use this information to respond to the SOII. COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties and meets OSHA criteria. While the SOII may capture some recordable COVID-19 cases reported by employers, the SOII did not produce estimates that separately identified COVID-19 illnesses. BLS coded COVID-19-related illness cases in Nature code 3299 – “Other diseases due to viruses, not elsewhere classified,” which can be found in the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System. A Frequently Asked Question provides more details on where COVID-19 is reflected in the 2020 SOII results. SOII will continue to capture COVID-19 cases for 2021 data.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) publishes a complete count of work-related fatal injuries and descriptive data on their circumstances. The CFOI news release for 2019 data was published December 16, 2020. The news release for 2020 data will be published December 16, 2021.

  1. Is data collection for CFOI affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? CFOI uses a variety of data sources to identify and substantiate fatal work injuries. (See the Handbook of Methods section on data sources.) Data collection for 2019 and 2020 was affected by the availability of data collection staff and source documents. Despite these challenges, the program was able to obtain and process source data for 2019 and 2020.
  2. Does BLS capture COVID-19 cases in the CFOI? BLS will publish results from the 2020 CFOI on December 16, 2021. Fatal occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, are out of scope for CFOI unless precipitated by an acute injury. It is possible that a COVID-19-related fatality resulting from an acute injury may be in scope and appear on the CFOI file. However, information on COVID-19-related fatalities in source data is inconsistent and often unavailable. Therefore, BLS will not attempt to publish COVID-19-specific data.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Employment Cost Index

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is produced from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS is an establishment-based survey that provides comprehensive measures of (1) employer costs for employee compensation, including wages and salaries and benefits, (2) compensation trends, and (3) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans.

  1. How are compensation costs calculated for absent workers? The ECI is intended to indicate how the average compensation costs to employers change over time if the industrial and occupational composition of employment had not changed from the base period. Costs are collected for the pay period that includes the 12th of March, June, September, and December. The costs for workers temporarily absent are included in the ECI.
  2. Will data collection for ECI be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? The ECI data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period. See the historical response rates for the ECI.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECI estimates? The primary goal for the ECI is to provide accurate estimates of the change in the cost of total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on ECI estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy. Comparisons of compensation cost changes for a specific reference period against those of recent periods may provide a general indication of the impacts to the ECI. BLS publishes measures of reliability along with not seasonally adjusted 3-month and 12-month percent changes. See Technical Information about Standard Errors for Employment Cost Index Estimates and the database query tools.
  4. How will COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts affect seasonally adjusted estimates? Seasonal factors are based on exhibited seasonality for estimates over the past 10 years. Seasonal factors for 2021 and revisions to 5 years of seasonally adjusted series were released with the March 2021 Employment Cost Index on April 30, 2021. See Employment Cost Index: Annual seasonal adjustment process.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation are produced from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS is an establishment-based survey that provides comprehensive measures of (1) employer costs for employee compensation, including wages and salaries and benefits, (2) compensation trends, and (3) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans. The June 2021 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation was released September 16, 2021.

  1. How are compensation costs calculated for absent workers? Employer Costs for Employee Compensation provide compensation costs per employee hour worked for all workers within selected jobs. Costs are collected for the pay period that includes the 12th of March, June, September, and December. The costs for workers temporarily absent are included in Employer Costs for Employee Compensation.
  2. Will data collection for Employer Costs for Employee Compensation be affected by COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? Employer Costs for Employee Compensation data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation estimates? The primary goal for Employer Costs for Employee Compensation is to provide accurate estimates of the cost of total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on Employer Costs for Employee Compensation estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, including impacts from employment, changes in hours worked, and industry and occupational composition in the national economy.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on Employee Benefits in the United States

Employee Benefits in the United States is published annually and provides information from the National Compensation Survey on the coverage, provisions, and features of employer-sponsored benefits.

  1. Will data collection be affected? The data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, mail, and video calls. Field economists discontinued personal visits in mid-March 2020 and relied on the other data collection methods. Data collection may be affected by the availability of survey respondents.

  2. Will data be published as scheduled? The annual news release and corresponding files will be released as announced on the release calendar.

  3. Will estimates be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and response? The majority of the benefit coverage, provisions, and features of employer-sponsor benefits were collected prior to the start of the pandemic in the United States. Temporary changes are excluded from data collection. Estimates reflect the results for the specific reference period. The March 2020 and March 2021 estimates did not show impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency response efforts. However, subsequent releases may be affected if respondents are not available to report data or temporary plan changes become permanent.

  4. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts? In June 2020, a supplemental question was added to the National Compensation Survey to understand private industry establishment changes to sick leave policies. The results from that question were published in supplemental data measuring the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on sick leave plans.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Occupational Requirements Survey

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is an establishment-based survey that provides job-related information regarding physical demands; environmental conditions; education, training, and experience; and cognitive and mental requirements for jobs in the U.S. economy.

  1. How did data-collection methods change because of the COVID-19 pandemic? On May 6, 2020, BLS instructed field economists to consider pandemic-related changes to be temporary and to collect jobs as they were performed before the pandemic unless the respondent was certain changes were permanent for all workers in the job. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) solely to prevent or minimize exposure to COVID-19 is excluded as exposure to biohazards are not collected as part of ORS.
  2. How are job requirements calculated for absent workers? The ORS is collected by field economists speaking with survey respondents to determine the requirements of jobs and not individual workers. Estimates reflect all workers in selected jobs and are weighted to represent the national economy, as described in the calculation section of the Handbook of Methods.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response on ORS estimates? The primary goal for the ORS is to provide accurate estimates of job requirements. It will not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on future estimates because its effect cannot be separated from other influences on the economy, including impacts from employment, changes in hours worked, and industry and occupational composition in the national economy.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response on the Work Stoppages Data

The Work Stoppages program provides monthly and annual data and analysis of major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers lasting one full shift or longer. The monthly and annual data show the establishment and union(s) involved in the work stoppage along with the location, the number of workers, and the days of idleness.

Last Modified Date: November 18, 2021