Absenteeism costs U.S. business $84 billion a year, report says

Nutritionist Gabrielle Guzman talks to Angelica Fortunato about her daughter's eating habits at T.H.E. Clinic.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Employee absenteeism due to poor health costs U.S. businesses an estimated $84 billion a year in lost productivity, according to a new study.

The annual cost ranges from $24.2 billion in professional fields to $160 million among agricultural workers, according to a Gallup poll.

The study was based on more than 94,000 interviews conducted through much of last year with adults who work more than 30 hours a week.


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Of 14 broad occupations that were analyzed, 77% of employees were either overweight or had at least one chronic medical condition, according to the study.

Those respondents reported “about one extra unhealthy day and close to one-third of a day more of missed work each month” compared with their healthy co-workers, the study said.

Overall, absenteeism costs companies an estimated $341 a day, it said.

The study didn’t analyze one seemingly important question: Is it really companies that lose in these situations, or is it the rest of us who simply have to do more work?


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