For Immediate Release | February 29, 2024


Tyler Welch,


The 26th annual Workers’ Compensation report produced by the National Academy of Social Insurance provides the only comprehensive data on Workers’ Compensation benefits, coverage, and employer costs for the nation, the states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs. With a five-year study period spanning 2017-2021, this is the second annual report to cover the COVID-19 pandemic period, which permits an early understanding of the adaptation of Workers’ Compensation to the pandemic and general reversions to pre-pandemic trends. The report includes tables, figures, and appendices detailing outcomes related to Workers’ Compensation benefits, costs, and coverage.

“This report provides further evidence of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Workers’ Compensation, which is a critical component of our social insurance system,” said Jennifer Wolf, Chair of the Study Panel on Workers’ Compensation Data and President, Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Insurers Association. “In addition to its impacts on employment, the pandemic placed pressure on Workers’ Compensation and other programs to benefit workers and their families. The Academy’s publication provides unique insights for policymakers, researchers, and advocates into the magnitude of, and changes within, Workers’ Compensation programs .”

In addition to the usual five-year study period data, this year’s report also highlights the one-year change in benefits, costs, and coverage between 2020 and 2021. In 2021, workers’ compensation covered jobs made strong gains from 2020, while covered wages continued to increase as they have in recent years. Between 2020 and 2021, the only jurisdiction to experience a decrease in covered jobs was Washington, D.C., while Nevada had the largest gain.

In 2021, total workers’ compensation benefits paid increased relative to the pandemic’s first year, but total benefits paid decreased when corrected for the size of payroll (i.e., standardized benefits paid).

The same is true for total and standardized employer costs. Between 2020 and 2021, standardized benefits paid decreased in every jurisdiction except Hawaii, with Washington, D.C. having the largest decrease. Similarly, between 2020 and 2021, standardized employer costs decreased in every jurisdiction except Hawaii, with Rhode Island having the largest decrease.

“State Workers’ Compensation programs are vital part of a strong and resilient social insurance system,” said Bill Arnone, CEO of the Academy. “As we prepare for the next crisis, states must take the proper steps to guarantee that all workers—regardless of race, gender, or immigrant status—face safe and decent conditions on the job to minimize workplace injuries and illnesses. When those protections are not enough, it is critical that states ensure adequate benefits to workers and their families to be distributed in a timely fashion.”

Drawing on data from surveys of Workers’ Compensation agencies from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as from A.M. Best and the National Council on Compensation Insurance, this is the only report of its kind. As has been true since 1997, the report is available free-of-charge to researchers and students, state and federal agencies, workers’ rights and employer advocates, and others. Please visit the Academy’s website at to download a copy of this report.

Jennifer Wolf
Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Insurers’ Association

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,200 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance will meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsuranceon Twitter. 

See related news: Workers' Compensation

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