The cost of the coronavirus pandemic to U.S. employers has increased significantly since April 2021. 

An Integrated Benefits Institute analysis found the cost to employers for workers who are out with COVID-19 is estimated to total more than $78.4 billion over the past 22 months. 

The health and productivity research group said average losses are approaching $1 billion per week. 

Sick leave wages, short-term disability, and spending on employee benefits contribute to rising costs. 

“As we continue to adapt and adjust to new challenges including the omicron variant, it’s important now more than ever to look holistically at benefit costs,” IBI president Kelly McDevitt said. 

“Medical, pharmacy, mental health and wellness costs are critically important, but productivity and presenteeism have become a lynchpin to successful attraction, retention, growth, and satisfaction.”

As of early December 2021, there were 49.3 million COVID-19 cases in the country, with 19.2 million cases involving employed patients, according to IBI.

California, Texas, and New York have seen the highest lost work time costs, at $5.6 billion, $2.7 billion, and $2.3 billion respectively.  

The company considered data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and “lost workday experiences in its dataset of employer-sponsored disability claims to model lost work time impacts” based on the total U.S. COVID-19 case count.