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Long Covid likely contributed to record number leaving labour market

LONG Covid is likely to have contributed to the record number of people leaving the labour market in Britain, new analysis suggests. 

In the year to July, more than 200,000 people left the workforce because they had the condition, according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) study. 

The analysis identifies for the first time a link between long Covid and the recent workforce exodus, which has seen 600,000 workers go “missing” from the job market since early 2020. 

Economic inactivity, meaning people not in work and not looking for work, has risen almost 10 times faster among those suffering from the condition than those without it, the study found, with those aged 50 to 63 worst affected. 

“Today’s analysis shows that working-age people are less likely to participate in the labour market after developing long Covid symptoms than they were before being infected with coronavirus (Covid-19),” said Daniel Ayoubkhani of the ONS. 

“Long Covid may therefore have contributed to the decreasing levels of participation seen in the UK labour market during the coronavirus pandemic.”

However, the ONS cautioned that long Covid was unlikely to be the only reason behind the surge, so further research was needed. 

Responding to the analysis, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady urged ministers to ensure that long Covid sufferers are recognised as disabled in law so that they receive support and protections at work. 

She also called for long Covid to be recognised as an occupational disease, adding: “That would entitle employees to protection and compensation if they contracted the virus while working. 

“It’s a scandal that more than two and a half years after the first lockdown, the workers who kept our country going through the pandemic have still been offered no support.” 

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