Objectives Unemployment reduces health and impairs participation in important areas of life, especially for people with severe disabilities, who tend to have a longer duration of unemployment and are less likely to find new employment than their counterparts without such constraints. Our analysis examines the increase in unemployment due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic among people with and without severe disabilities in Germany.
Methods Monthly cross-sectional data on unemployment for 2019 and 2020 were provided by the Federal Employment Agency. We used a difference-in-differences model to estimate the increase in unemployment attributable to the pandemic. The months April to December 2020 represented the months of exposure to the pandemic. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) are reported.
Results The increase in unemployment among people with severe disabilities due to the pandemic is 11.2% (IRR 1.112; 95% CI 1.107 to 1.117). People with severe disabilities receiving unemployment benefits due to unemployment lasting less than a year (Social Code III: short-term unemployment) and women have been most affected. Among people without severe disabilities, unemployment has increased by 24.8% due to the pandemic (IRR 1.248; 95% CI 1.246 to 1.249), while people receiving unemployment benefits according to social code III and men have been most affected. Both groups show a varying increase in unemployment depending on the region of residency.
Conclusions The findings show a particularly significant increase in unemployment among people without severe disabilities. People with severe disabilities might be less impacted due to the special legal protection against their dismissal. The clear regional differences in the increase in unemployment suggest a strong influence of regional economics.
- Public health
- Occupational Health
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. The datasets generated for this study are available on request to the corresponding author.
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Contributors All authors contributed to the research as well as development and revision of the manuscript and have approved its final version.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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