Story at a glance

  • Most of the highest risk jobs during the coronavirus pandemic are in the medical industry.
  • Some of the highest risk jobs during this pandemic are also the lowest paid.
  • The World Economic Forum compared the level of risk to the annual income for each of these jobs.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, only 29 percent of Americans have jobs that allowed them to work from home. With many states under stay-at-home orders, some companies have adapted to allow their employees to work remotely. Still, many have had to risk contracting the disease in order to continue collecting their paychecks.  


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The World Economic Forum (WEF) has evaluated the risk of infection from COVID-19 for 1,000 common jobs, using information from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Risk assessments considered the level of contact the job requires with others, the physical proximity to other people while on the job and the amount of exposure to hazardous conditions equally in determining a score out of 100. 

One of the highest risk jobs was that of dental hygienists, while bus drivers were considered to have medium risk jobs and economists one of the safest jobs. 


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But the paychecks these workers are risking their lives for aren’t equal in size. The WEF also compared their occupational risk scores with the average annual income according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Family and general practitioners, internists, nurse anesthetists and dentists are the highest paying jobs with high risk of COVID-19, while orderlies, dental assistants, licensed nurses and physical therapist aids are among the lowest paying jobs with high risk. On the other end, CEOs were by far the highest paid of the low-risk careers, while bookkeeping and accounting clerks and janitors were the lowest paid with low risk. 

Individuals on the front lines, whether they’re taking care of patients or stocking grocery shelves, are placing themselves at risk to ensure our communities can continue to run smoothly,” the WEF said in a release. “Meanwhile, those fortunate enough to work from home can help flatten the curve by continuing to practice safe social distancing, even on weekends.”

Find out where your job ranks on the WEF’s full list of 1,000 occupations


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Published on Apr 20, 2020