More Americans Are Too Sick to Work as Virus Cases Surge

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American workers are increasingly leaving their jobs or are too sick to work as coronavirus cases spike across the U.S.

The number of employed Americans fell by 4.3 million in the two weeks ended Dec.7, according to the latest edition of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. That’s following a 2.4 million rise in the number of workers with jobs during the prior two week period.

Nearly 5 million Americans said they can’t work because they’re sick with coronavirus, a figure which has more than doubled in less that two months. Another 5.2 million said they weren’t working because of fears about getting sick or spreading the virus, up from 4.8 million in the prior tally.

The data underscores the threat surging cases pose to the rebounding labor market and the importance of getting the virus under control to bolster economic growth. On top of illness, more than 6 million Americans were out of work as a result of employers temporarily or permanently shuttering their businesses because of virus lockdowns, compared with 5.2 million in the previous survey, the data showed.

More Americans Are Too Sick to Work as Virus Cases Surge

More Americans are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The share adults who said they don’t have enough to eat in the past seven days rose to 12.7%, the highest since the survey started in late April.

The total number of employed people in the U.S. is about 140 million, according to the survey released Wednesday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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