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NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health


NIOSH eNews - October 2009

Sickness absenteeism in the workplace is strongly correlated (r=0.87, p<0.0001) with the occurrence of influenza-like illness (ILI)* and may serve as an indicator of the level of influenza activity in the employed population during the current pandemic (Figure 1). NIOSH tracks sickness absenteeism among full-time workers** on a monthly basis, using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). In Figure 2 we present the geographic distribution of sickness absenteeism among full-time workers in the U.S. by state for August 2009. State prevalence of absenteeism ranged from 1.03% (NC) to 3.08% (WA). The overall prevalence for the nation was 1.7%. As CPS data are population-based and nationally representative, either these analyses can be stratified by a number of demographic and labor force characteristics such as age, sex, industry and occupation to provide benchmarks for those interested in specific segments of the population.

*Proportion of outpatient office visits attributable to ILI. From ILINet, aggregated by month.
**Full-time workers are those who report that they usually work at least 35 hours per week.   Sickness absenteeism is defined as working fewer than 35 hours during the CPS reference week due to the worker’s own illness or injury

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Figure 1. Sickness Absenteeism Among Full-Time Workers and Percent of Outpatient Visits for Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), United States, January 2004 - July 2009. Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and ILNet 2004 - 2009.

Figure 2. Prevelence of Sickness Absenteeism Among Full-Time Workers in the U.S., August 2009 (U.S. Prevelence 1.70%).