Flu cost employers $21B last season

Influenza cost employers more than $21 billion in lost productivity during the 2017-18 flu season, according to an estimate from Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The Chicago-based outplacement and executive coaching firm estimated the flu sickened 25 million workers last season. Based on this estimate, analysts calculated average wages lost due to missing four eight-hour shifts using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They estimated flu caused $21.39 billion in losses for U.S. employers.

"It was a particularly bad flu season last year," Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Newsday. "We don't have too much of an indication of what this flu season is going to look like right now, but employers should take heed."

The flu caused more than 900,000 hospitalizations and 80,000 deaths during the 2017-18 flu season, according to the CDC. If the U.S. sees similar flu activity this season, employers' losses from sick days could be even higher due to wage increases, according to Mr. Challenger.

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