CWCI: Younger Workers, Males Account for Increasing Shares of COVID-19 WC Claims

Nancy Grover

Oakland, CA ( – The summer months has brought about a major shift in the demographics of California workers who’ve filed workers’ compensation claims. Younger workers now account for a higher percentage of claims than they had during the spring, according to new data from the California Workers Compensation Institute.

“The distribution by claimant age shows that in the spring months, roughly 1 out of 5 COVID-19 claimants (20.3 percent) were in the 20 – 30 age group, but among claims with June through August injury dates, that percentage rose to 27.0 percent,” according to a CWCI Bulletin released yesterday. “Similarly, the share of claims involving workers under the age of 20 also rose, jumping form 0.9 percent of the COVID-19 claims during the spring to 2.2 percent of the claims from this summer. Over the same period, there was almost no change to the proportion of COVID-19 claims from workers in the 30-39 age group, while all of the age groups encompassing workers over the age of 40 saw their percentage of the COVID-19 claims decline.”

Another change was the percentage of gender mix. Women accounted for nearly 56 percent of the claims from March through May. However, during the summer months, males accounted for more than half, 50.6 percent. The authors say that occurred “as the economy opened up and claim volume more than doubled in June …”

The data also shows geographic changes in claims filed. Los Angeles County had by far the largest percentage of claims during the spring, with nearly 4 out of every 10 claims. That was almost double the proportion from the Inland Empire/Orange County, about 2.5 times the rate from the Bay Area, and more than triple the share from the Central Valley. That changed during the summer months.

“As the pandemic spread in the summer months (June, July and August) and COVID-19 claim volume soared, the regional distribution shifted, with the Inland Empire/Orange County leading the state with 23.7 percent of the claims, closely followed by the Central Valley, which saw its share nearly double to 24.5 percent, while Los Angeles Country’s proportion of the COVID-19 claims dropped from 39.2 percent to 23.8 percent, and the Bay Area’s share slipped from 16.3 percent to 14.9 percent.” Additionally, “other rural regions of the state also saw their share of the COVID-19 claims increase this summer, as the Central Coast saw its proportion climb from 2.7 percent to 4.9 percent, while the Northern Counties and Sierras’ share rose from 0.9 percent to 1.5 percent.”

CWCI now projects fewer COVID-19 claims in the January – August period than it did in July. The Institute said that, for the time being, this may suggest COVID-19 claim volume peaked in July.

“COVID-19 claims have steadily climbed from January to July, but fell sharply in August,” the Institute said. “There have been 41,861 COVID-19 claims reported so far this year, which translates to 11.2 percent for all claims reported.”

Even including COVID-19 claims, overall claim volume was still down 19.8 percent from the same period of 2019, reflecting a “sharp drop in employment, the high number of workers now working from home, and the pandemic-driven slowdown in economic activity in the state,” CWCI said.

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