Substance Abuse and Its Impact on Employment and Earnings for Blue Collar Workers

Needham, Allyn B. and Shannon H. Shipp. 2006. “Substance Abuse and Its Impact on Employment and Earnings for Blue Collar Workers.” The Earnings Analyst 8: 1-12.


This report examines the impact substance abuse has on unskilled and semi-skilled workers as they attempt to re-enter the workplace. Substance abuse knows no ethnic, religious or socio-economic boundaries and individuals who have this chronic, yet manageable, disease come from all walks of life. But, studies show that blue collar workers with substance abuse problems incur greater economic damage than white collar abusers. Research has shown that white collar abusers continue to earn at levels similar to those of their non-abusing peers. On the other hand, blue collar workers have been found to earn at levels 15% below their non-abusing peers. Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the state of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services, this report provides data to experts seeking to estimate future employment and earnings for identified blue collar abusers. It will examine the dynamics of the workplace, demographics of substance abusers and the impact of substance abuse on workers re-entering the labor market with or without participating in a treatment recovery program.


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