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unemployment up due to opioid addiction

Opioid Use Driving Force Behind Higher Disability Rates in Some States

Despite the relatively booming economy, many states are reporting a decrease in the availability of labor. Research shows that there seems to be a correlation between the decrease in labor availability and the rise in opioid prescriptions.

Some states, such as Alabama, Arkansas and West Virginia are reporting a particularly high correlation, leading to claims that the current opioid crisis is having a particularly negative effect on labor participation.

Research by the University of Tennessee in early 2018 suggested that a ten percent increase in opioid prescriptions causes a 5.6 percentage point reduction in the available labor force.

Not All Sources Agree On the Correlation Between Labor Shortage and Opioid Use

However, counter research published in the Harvard Business Review stated that “while the opioid epidemic has caused wide-reaching devastation, aggregate employment appears not to be one of its victims.”

Opioid prescriptions peaked in the USA in 2011, with the highest-ever rate of 72 pills per adult. Although this has now dropped to a rate of 52 pills per adult, many people are still dealing with the aftermath of opioid dependency.

The number of prime-age (i.e. those aged between 25-54) people out of the labor force due to disability also peaked in 2011, but the correlation between those numbers and the prescription rate is so alike to be staggering. In addition, the amount of unavailable labor participation of prime-aged workers remains is more than three times the amount as was unavailable twenty years ago.

It’s Predicted That Less Reliance on Opioids Will Increase the Amount of Available Labor

It is clear that labor force participation requires a boost, and sources say the drop in opioid prescriptions should boost participation by 0.1 percent over the next two years. This amounts to the addition of 10,000 prime age workers to the labor force per month.

The states most affected by a lack of labor also suffer from high unemployment rates. These states are West Virginia (5.4%), Mississippi (4.8%), Alabama (4.1%) and Arkansas (3.7%). The national unemployment rate is around 4.0%.

Not only does West Virginia have one of the highest unemployment rates in the US, since 2014 it has led the way as far as overdose death rates go. Much of West Virginia’s available work relies upon manual labor, such as coal mining. Manual labor employment carries a higher risk of physical pain and work-related injuries, which in the past has led to the over-prescription of opioid-based pain medication.

Additionally, those who are unemployed are more likely to turn to opioid-related drug use. This makes it harder for such potential employees to find work as they fail drug screenings, leading to their virtual permanent removal from the employment pool.

Are You Currently Struggling With Disability Due to Opioid Dependency? 

If you’re currently dealing with an addiction to opioids that is affecting your ability to work, feel free to reach out to Advanced Rapid Detox to learn more about our three day rapid opiate detox program. Give us a call anytime at (800) 603-1813 or through our online contact form.