New Report Highlights Opioid Crisis’ Continued Harm to Workforce and Economic Growth


WASHINGTON, DC – A report by the American Action Forum (AAF) offers new insight on the opioid crisis’ negative impact on our workforce and drag on economic growth. The report examines the country as a whole, as well as individual states. The report builds off of a March analysis also conducted by AAF that studied how the opioid crisis has harmed the American workforce.

AAF’s findings include:

  • In 2015, more than 2 million prime-age individuals (ages 25-54) across the country were not in the workforce because of opioids.
  • Between the years 1999 and 2015, the decline in workforce participation cumulatively cost the economy 27 billion work hours.

AAF’s report notes, “In recent years, the growth of annual opioid overdose fatalities had also been accelerating: eight percent in 2013, 14 percent in 2014, 16 percent in 2015, and 28 percent in 2016. As a result, opioids have contributed to the first decline in U.S. life expectancy since the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1993.”

Click HERE to view the map

An interactive map lets viewers examine data on workforce impacts in each state. For example, the image above highlights Oregon, which has lost an estimated 356 million work hours from 1999-2015 because of the opioid crisis. The report’s findings also estimate the Beaver State lost nearly 27,000 workers in 2015 alone, due to the crisis. These findings illustrate how, along with the terrible human toll, the opioid crisis comes with significant economic costs.

Speaking with The Washington Post, Ben Gitis, AAF’s director of labor market policy said, “the problem is undoubtedly larger because illegal drugs such as fentanyl and heroin are exacting their own toll. But there is no way to accurately quantify the amount of those drugs used in the United States annually… .”

In June, the House passed H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. The bipartisan package, which passed the House by a sweeping vote of 396-14, includes dozens of policies that will advance treatment and recovery initiatives, improve prevention, protect our communities, and bolster our efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

Included in the package is H.R. 5327, the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers (CORC) Act, authored by #SubHealth Vice Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and #SubHealth Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX). H.R. 5327, which passed the House in June by a vote of 383-13, will aide in recovery efforts and help patients battling addiction re-enter the workforce.

It is imperative the Senate act and pass H.R. 6, so these reforms can be signed into law.

To learn more about Energy and Commerce’s comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click here. To learn more about the House’s comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click here.