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A Look at Our Changing Workforce and the Consequences for Workers’ Compensation

December 06, 2023 (1 min read)

By Hon. Susan V. Hamilton, Former Assistant Secretary and Deputy Commissioner, California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board

For readers who may not be familiar with the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), it is renowned as a preeminent independent research organization dedicated to helping guide policymakers and others interested in improving workers’ compensation systems by providing information and insights obtained through its studies and data collection efforts. WCRI has contributed to our understanding of issues germane to workers’ compensation systems, such as the various factors that drive costs, the impact of legislative change on system outcomes, and alternative solutions that merit consideration. Long COVID in the Workers’ Compensation Early in the Pandemic (see and Long COVID in the Workers’ Compensation System in 2020 and 2021 (see are two examples of recent studies conducted by WCRI that have better informed our understanding of the prevalence of long COVID among workers, the characteristics of workers affected by the disease, and the costs associated with long COVID.

Now WCRI has released a new comprehensive study that examines how economic disruptions over the past several years have likely impacted workers’ compensation systems. For example, early in the COVID pandemic, unemployment skyrocketed to 14.7%, gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels by December 2022. Inflation increased to 9.1% as of June 1, 2022, but has since shown a downward trend, leveling off to 4.9% in June 2023. Job turnover increased significantly in the past few years, and a tighter labor market has led to increased wages. The study, Changes in the Workforce and Their Impact on Workers’ Compensation Outcomes, examines how recent economic changes and demographic characteristics have influenced the workers’ compensation system, and provides insights to facilitate better understanding of which factors or trends are going to have a larger impact on workers’ compensation outcomes. While the study is candid that its projections are forecasts, they are based on detailed analysis of data gathered over the past several years that reflects changing economic and demographic factors.

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