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Omicron winter: A record 8.8 million Americans miss work in January

Omicron winter: A record 8.8 million Americans miss work in January

The recent spike in coronavirus cases has once again taken a toll on the United States labour force, with record employees missing work.

Within the first half of January, about 8.8 million U.S. workers were forced to stay at home due to the health crisis, growing over two million people compared to a year earlier, data by Statista indicates.

U.S. labour market shortage. Source: Statista

The workers missed out after either being infected or caring for someone battling the virus. The shortages emerged despite the ongoing massive vaccination campaign in the country.

Most of the affected workers are in the essential services sectors like healthcare, logistics, retail and manufacturing. Consequently, the impact will likely hit various aspects of the economy hard, like accelerating the supply chain disruption. 

In recent weeks, the Omicron variant has been more dominant despite allegedly presenting less lethal and milder symptoms. In the U.S., as of January 19, 2021, Omicron accounted for over 90% of the new Covid-19 cases. 

U.S. labour market recovery stagnating 

The figures cast more doubt on the U.S. labour market recovery that is hoping to regain pre-pandemic levels. Notably, at the start of the pandemic, the crisis sent shock waves through the labour market, pushing the unemployment rate to record highs. 

The labour sector is facing different dynamics that have impacted the overall market. For instance, the United States is still struggling to get a clear outlook reading the state of the economy and the labour market’s health since the sector is fast changing. 

Last year, the dynamics played out after a mismatch emerged between the supply and demand of workers in different sectors. At some point, many people were leaving their positions, especially in industries where remote work is not an option. 

During the period, the U.S. government had a comprehensive stimulus programme to cushion people against the economic impact of the pandemic. 

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