While the opioid epidemic has had significant impacts across the labor market, its effects have been particularly pronounced in specific occupations and industries. A CDC analysis of mortality data from 21 states concluded that unintentional and undetermined overdose deaths accounted for a disproportionate share of all deaths in the following six occupational groups: construction, extraction (e.g., mining), food preparation and serving, health care practitioners, health care support, and personal care and service. These fatalities are particularly concentrated in construction and extraction: an analysis by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that individuals employed in construction and extraction accounted for over 24% of all overdose deaths in the state’s working population.
Notably, the jobs with the highest rates of opioid overdose fatalities generally have high occupational injury rates and low access to paid sick leave. Figure 1 demonstrates that the industries with the highest rates of overdose fatalities in the workplace have elevated occupational injury rates for fractures and musculoskeletal disorders, both of which are significant risk factors for long-term opioid use.
Author(s): Julia Paris, Caitlin Rowley, and Richard G. Frank
Publication Date: 17 April 2023
Publication Site: Brookings