The nearly fourfold increase in opioid prescriptions from 1999 to 2015 couldaccount for 20 percent of the overall decline of men in the U.S.workforce during that time period, according to the report,“Where Have All the Workers Gone? An Inquiry intothe Decline of the U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate,” byPrinceton University economist Alan B. Krueger.

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In 2015 alone, the opioid and prescription painkiller addictionepidemic resulted in 33,000 American deaths, particularly impactingrural areas in the Northeast, Appalachia, and the Midwest,according to the report.

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“Labor force participation has fallen more in areas whererelatively more opioid pain medication is prescribed, causing theproblem of depressed labor force participation and the opioidcrisis to become intertwined,” Krueger writes.

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Related: How brokers can play a pivotal role in theopioid epidemic

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Fortune reports that some employers in those regionshave openly said they are struggling to find sober jobapplicants.

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“President Donald Trump recently declared the opioid crisis anational emergency, but his administration has reportedly not yetfollowed through on the administrative steps that would free upresources to combat opioid addiction,” Fortune writes.

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Opioid addiction — now at a 12-year high — is one of themajor reasons why men ages 25 to 54 have dropped out of theworkforce or are unable to work or find work, according toHRDive.

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Related: Opioid health services increased 3000percent

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Currently, men have an 88.4 percent participation rate in theU.S. labor pool, which is slightly higher than the record low in2014. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said in acongressional hearing last month that opioid use is keepingemployers from finding enough workers.

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“Employers, who are already struggling with recruiting andhiring in a workers’ job market, now are grappling with drugaddiction cutting into the talent pool, HRDive writes.

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The website cites research by ClearedMatched, an employment screening and investigativecompany, which found that the percentage of employers conductingdrug tests has risen by 30 percent in the last several months, andthat job candidates failed 25 percent to 50 percent of thetime.

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“The first step in reversing the opioid epidemic is gettingaddicts into treatment,” HRDive writes. “Federal lawmakers and theTrump administration have vowed to address the problem withfunding. Opioid addiction is a societal dilemma that requireslawmakers, employers and employee advocacy groups to work togetherto address the epidemic.”

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.