The number of workers covered by workers' compensation hit a new low when the figure fell by 4.4 percent in 2009, the largest decline in two decades, according to a report by the National Academy of Social Insurance.

The report also reveals that benefits costs dropped by 7.6 percent to $73.9 billion in 2009, which is the most current year with complete data, indicating the overall decline in employment.  

"As one might expect, when the Great Recession hit, employers paid less in workers' compensation costs because there were fewer workers to cover," says John F. Burton Jr., chair of the panel that oversees the report. "Although the drop in employer costs represents the biggest decrease in the last two decades, benefits increased slightly by 0.4 percent to $58.3 billion, reflecting in part benefits provided in 2009 to workers injured in prior years."

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