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900,000 people out of workforce due to Opioids

The unemployment rate has been hovering in the mid to low 4 percent range in 2017,and companies are almost desperate for able bodied workers. One of the issues being faced by businesses is the fact that hundreds of thousands of people can’t even work due to Opioid abuse. It is estimated that the issue is impacting about 900,000 Americans.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve reports that almost 1.8 million people are not working today due to “other” reasons. This can be any wide range of personal type issues. The 1.8 million does not include the disabled, people in school, or that have so called “valid” reasons for being out of the workforce.

Now of those 1.8 million, about 900,000 admitted to taking one or more opioids the previous day. This is per a study from Alan Krueger. Those ~900,000 bodies admitted to using one Opioid, but how many pills did they really take? Or how much did they shoot up? As if they admit to one the actual number is bound to be much higher.

In addition, that is ~900,000 people that admitted to using the drug. How many others were too ashamed, embarrassed, or sick and would never admit to their use? We would bet that would be a big number. We would not be surprised if that 900,000 way underestimates the true problem plaguing the workforce as we progress throughout 2017.

In addition to the number admitted taking the drug the previous day, it is estimated by STAT that up to 2 million people have some form of reliance on an Opioid. Maybe not a hard core addiction, but they rely on the pills a little too much. About 100 million have a prescription for the drug. That is ~1/3 of the American population! Those numbers are hard to believe, in fact we do not see how it can be possible! But this data is per STAT, an agency that is involved extensively in collecting and report data on various issues.

Now that figure is just people that are having their career prospects impacted due to drug use. There is obviously much worse happening to this economy. In addition to not being able to work, the Opioid epidemic is killing people. In fact, it is estimated that about 100 deaths are occurring every single day in 2017 due to this drug per STAT. This is equivalent to 36,000 deaths each and every year.

So those deaths also lead to a major economic impact. It can increase medical costs (therefore insurance bills) for companies and people who do not abuse drugs. It causes strain on hospitals, emergency rooms, and others that need to take care of all the medical issues. All of those costs from the Opioid epidemic are paid using tax dollars or insurance co-pays for everyday Americans.

We constantly see news reports from companies all over America that in effect state hiring managers are having a hard time in finding workers in 2017. They say many candidates due not show up for interviews or maybe they do not show up the first day of work after being hired. Or they fail drug tests. Now this are just stores we see on the various news-wires, but we think they are telling.

As no employer will take a risk on someone that is abusing drugs. They will pass on that candidate every single time. And if someone were to fail a drug test (which are becoming more common) due to Opioids, then good luck getting a job!

We think this issue is a national crisis. It not only impacts the drub abuser, but it is bad for every single American. It holds down overall GDP as well as productivity of companies. That directly impacts how America does in this increasingly competitive world.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

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