Millions of Working People Still Don’t Have Access to A Single Paid Sick Day

By Sapna Mehta and Jessica Milli

As corporate profits soar and the tight labor market persists, many employers struggle to meet staffing needs. These challenges raise the question of whether employers are taking basic steps to improve job quality to attract job applicants. Because we all experience sickness, one of the most basic aspects of a good job is access to paid sick leave. Yet data suggest that many employers are failing to offer even a single paid sick day. In this brief, we use data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS) to estimate the share of workers at the national and state level who have access to paid sick leave.

CLASP’s analysis examines access to paid sick leave at the national and state level by income, gender, and hours worked. We also compare access to paid sick leave in states with state and local paid sick leave laws and ordinances, as well as those without any requirements. Our analysis finds that a significant portion of the population still lacks access to paid sick leave, with disparities in access across income and hours worked. Moreover, those disparities are significantly narrower in states and localities with paid sick leave laws.


NOTE: The narrative of this report was changed on June 2, 2023, to correct the total number of workers with paid sick days, and the state-level data tables were corrected on June 27, 2023, due to the inadvertent transposing of some state names with their data.