© Copyright 2005 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning
Employment Growth, But With Caution
by: Sylvia D. Jones, Senior Research Analyst; Tom Gallagher, Manager; and Valerie A. Davis, Senior Economist
Recently released Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) data show some employment opportunities, more so than others, are associated with injuries and illnesses. The private sector injury and illness rate, resulting in days away from work, was 5.3 per 100 workers in 2004. Injuries and illnesses may precipitate a worker’s compensation claim and/or contribute to healthcare cost shifting, especially among industries with low health insurance coverage.
Rapid employment growth in Wyoming benefits many job seekers and employers. However, as the accompanying recently released survey data show (see http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/OSH/toc.htm for details) some employment opportunities, more so than others, are associated with injuries and illnesses. Such events often cause workers to lose time away from work and employers to lose valuable labor.
The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) data reveal a private sector injury and illness rate, resulting in days away from work, of 5.3 per 100 workers. Costs to workers and employers alike are not evenly distributed across all industries. Certain industries have a lower than average incidence rate, but a high employment growth rate that may lead to a larger number of events associated with days away from work. For example, support activities for mining has a lower than average incidence rate (4.7%) but is undergoing rapid employment growth. The affect is an increased share of injury and illness events compared to earlier years when the industry’s growth was less dramatic. On the other hand, utilities has a similar incidence rate (4.2%) but it has a smaller employment base and a slower projected employment growth rate. Therefore it has a smaller projected impact on total injuries and illnesses. The expansion of Wyoming’s economy is seen across industries with higher and lower than average incidence rates. When an industry with rapid employment growth, such as the construction of buildings industry (3.3%) also has a higher than average incidence rate (7.6%), a substantial increase in the number of events is likely to occur. Projected injury and illness numbers reflect the application of survey results to projected employment and do not take into consideration changes in prevention strategies.
The Table presents the injury and illness incidence rates for selected industries as well as the base employment and projected short term growth. Wood product manufacturing has the highest incidence rate at 17.2. Furniture & home furnishings stores and nursing & residential care facilities follow with 11.0 and 10.0, respectively.
While the incidence rates alone are important, their relevance is best understood when combined with base employment and projected employment growth. For example, nursing & residential care facilities has a fairly modest projected growth of 167 jobs. When combined with the incidence rate, it equates to an expected 17 additional injuries or illnesses between 2004 and 2006. We estimate a total of 528 injuries or illnesses to occur in this industry in 2006, many among Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). The job of a CNA can be difficult and hazardous because of the frequent need to lift and turn patients, which can cause lower back injuries. CNAs are also exposed to infections, diseases, and physical violence from patients (Gregory, 2001).
As seen in the Table, accommodation has a high incidence rate of 8.6, a large base employment of 11,008, and a 2.2% predicted employment growth between 2004 and 2006. Taken together this means that in 2006, we expect a total of 989 injuries or illnesses to occur in the industry. Because of the employment growth, the total is 42 more than in 2004.
Injuries and illnesses may precipitate a worker’s compensation claim and/or contribute to healthcare cost shifting. Accommodation and selected sub-industries within the Construction industry, which have high incidence rates, also tend to have comparatively lower rates of health insurance coverage (Gallagher et al., 2005). Job related injuries and illnesses can be devastating to individuals and employer profitability. However, the consequences may not stop there but have unrecognized outcomes in the community.
Gallagher, T., Harris, M., Hiatt, M., Leonard, D. W., Saulcy, S., & Shinkle, K. R. (2005). Private sector employee access to health insurance and the potential Wyo-Care market. Casper, WY: Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning.
Gregory, S. R. (2001). The nursing home workforce: Certified nurse assistants. AARP Public Policy Institute Fact Sheet, 86, 2.
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