Opioid crisis has cost US roughly 1M workers, $702B: study

Opioid crisis has cost US roughly 1M workers, $702B: study
© Getty Images

The U.S. economy has lost close to 1 million workers and $702 billion due to opioid addiction, according to a study released Tuesday.

The American Action Forum (AAF), a right-leaning think tank, analyzed the impact of the opioid epidemic on U.S. labor force participation and output between 1999 and 2015. The group applied findings from previous studies on the economic impact of opioid addiction to data tracking the size of the U.S. workforce and gross domestic product (GDP).

Roughly 425,000 men and 471,000 women of prime working age (between 25 and 54) who were employed or looking for a job left the labor force by 2015 because of opioid addiction, the study found. That’s roughly 914,000 prime-age workers, close to 25 percent of the total decline in U.S. labor force participation.

ADVERTISEMENT
The study also found that reduced economic productivity due to opioid addiction — caused by fewer and less productive employees — cost the U.S economy $702 billion in GDP between 1999 and 2015. Opioid addiction cost U.S workers 12 billion working hours in the same time frame, the study found.

"The U.S. economy depends on prime-age workers because they are among the most productive workers in the labor force," AAF wrote. "Yet, the growth of opioid dependency over the past two decades has contributed to the falling labor force participation rate of prime-age workers."

"As policymakers consider ways to grow the economy and boost the labor supply, addressing the opioid epidemic should be part of the solution."

AAF applied findings from studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and other researchers to federal data tracking economic performance.

The CDC found that the opioid epidemic cost Americans $78.5 billion in 2013, though the analysis also included spending on health and legal expenses, which could stimulate growth in those sectors. The Council of Economic Advisers found that opioid addiction cost the U.S. $504 billion in 2015.

Policymakers have often cited the opioid epidemic as a major hindrance to the U.S. economy. More than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, and addiction tends to be the most prevalent in economically struggling areas of the U.S.

The council warned in its 2018 economic report that widespread opioid addiction was suppressing labor productivity and labor participation.

The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE last week included $2.8 billion in funding to combat the opioid crisis.