Association of Post-COVID-19 Condition Symptoms and Employment Status

JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Feb 1;6(2):e2256152. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.56152.


Importance: Little is known about the functional correlates of post-COVID-19 condition (PCC), also known as long COVID, particularly the relevance of neurocognitive symptoms.

Objective: To characterize prevalence of unemployment among individuals who did, or did not, develop PCC after acute infection.

Design, setting, and participants: This survey study used data from 8 waves of a 50-state US nonprobability internet population-based survey of respondents aged 18 to 69 years conducted between February 2021 and July 2022.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcomes were self-reported current employment status and the presence of PCC, defined as report of continued symptoms at least 2 months beyond initial month of symptoms confirmed by a positive COVID-19 test.

Results: The cohort included 15 308 survey respondents with test-confirmed COVID-19 at least 2 months prior, of whom 2236 (14.6%) reported PCC symptoms, including 1027 of 2236 (45.9%) reporting either brain fog or impaired memory. The mean (SD) age was 38.8 (13.5) years; 9679 respondents (63.2%) identified as women and 10 720 (70.0%) were White. Overall, 1418 of 15 308 respondents (9.3%) reported being unemployed, including 276 of 2236 (12.3%) of those with PCC and 1142 of 13 071 (8.7%) of those without PCC; 8229 respondents (53.8%) worked full-time, including 1017 (45.5%) of those with PCC and 7212 (55.2%) without PCC. In survey-weighted regression models excluding retired respondents, the presence of PCC was associated with a lower likelihood of working full-time (odds ratio [OR], 0.71 [95% CI, 0.63-0.80]; adjusted OR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.74-0.96]) and with a higher likelihood of being unemployed (OR, 1.45 [95% CI, 1.22-1.73]; adjusted OR, 1.23 [95% CI, 1.02-1.48]). The presence of any cognitive symptom was associated with lower likelihood of working full time (OR, 0.70 [95% CI, 0.56-0.88]; adjusted OR, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.59-0.84]).

Conclusions and relevance: PCC was associated with a greater likelihood of unemployment and lesser likelihood of working full time in adjusted models. The presence of cognitive symptoms was associated with diminished likelihood of working full time. These results underscore the importance of developing strategies to treat and manage PCC symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment