Sick days and vacations hit businesses this summer

Note: Surveys of Americans who say they are not working because they have or are caring for someone with COVID-19 were conducted weekly through July 21, 2020 and biweekly thereafter. Surveys of Americans who are taking vacations from work are conducted monthly. Data: U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

COVID-19 cases are on the rise with extremely transmissible Omicron BA.5 variant, and businesses — already struggling with labor shortages — are dealing with an influx of workers calling out sick.

By the numbers: Between June 29 and July 11, nearly 3.9 million people said they did not work because they were either sick with coronavirus symptoms or were caring for a sick loved one, according to recent Census Bureau data.

The big picture: The BA.5 variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S., is spreading and companies already affected by the pandemic labor shortage may not be able to keep up.

  • Sloan Dean, chief executive at the Dallas-based hotel operator at Remington Hotels Inc., told the businesses this summer” data-vars-event-category=”story” data-vars-sub-category=”story” data-vars-item=”in_content_link” href=”″Wall Street Journal staff absences due to COVID are up about 50% in recent weeks.
  • Dean told the Journal the company is turning to managers and contractors to make up the gaps.
  • “[L]abor force participation does not match what it was before the pandemic,” per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • There would be an additional 3.25 million more workers today if “the percentage of people participating in the labor force was the same as in February 2020.”
  • There are also more jobs open (11.3 million) than there are unemployed workers (5.9 million).
  • The summer of “revenge travel” is also upon us, stretching companies even thinner as Americans are now taking vacation more to make up for pandemic-related cancellations.

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