Opioid crisis remains the latest barrier to hiring
- Various reports suggest that a skills gap isn't the reason employers are unable to fill jobs, but the surging use of opioids instead, reports Axios. Job applicants reportedly fail workplace drug tests pretty regularly; estimates range from 25% to 50% of the time. Drug abuse typically starts with prescription drug addiction, but later moves on to deadlier drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
- The reports say that drug use has hit the manufacturing and rust belts hard, where widespread job loss and stagnant wages have decimated workers, according to Axios. Drug addiction is especially high in West Virginia. The U.S. Current Population Survey showed that between 5.6% and 5.7% of adults didn't work in 2016 because they were ill or disabled. How many of them were drug-addicted is unknown, says Axios.
- In a congressional hearing earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen cited opioid use as one of the reasons employers can't find enough workers.
The rise in opioid addiction poses a dilemma for the workplace, along with society in general. Lawmakers have agreed to allocate funds to help fight what appears to be an epidemic in some regions.
Some employers are educating workers about the dangers of prescription pain-killers and taking steps to assist those with addiction. One Indiana employer, for example, directs employees who test positive into treatment programs and reassigns them if they’re in high-risk or dangerous jobs.