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5 States Where Dying People Are Most Likely to Be Working Age

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Whatever the omicron variant of COVID-19 does to U.S. life insurance insurance claims, the delta variant and its siblings have been continuing to drive up the number of deaths of working-age Americans.

Some life and health insurers reported that an enormous surge of COVID-19 deaths appeared in September and then seemed to end quickly.

A look at weekly death count data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that, from 2015 through 2019, about 12,900 people ages 25 through 64 died, from all causes, in a typical week.

In September, the number climbed more than 7,000, or more than 50%, over the median.

That total includes both people killed directly by COVID-19 and by the effects of the pandemic on the health care system, the economy and U.S. society as a whole.

The all-cause mortality gap fell to about 23% over the typical level in October, and was still 18% over the typical level in November.

The Context

The death rate of people ages 25 through 64 is of keen interest to life insurers, because people in that age group are more likely than older or younger people to buy large amounts of life insurance to protect their families against the risk of death.

Increases in all-cause mortality help pension plans and long-term care insurance issuers, by reducing the size of benefits obligations.

In theory, increases in mortality could also help issuers of individual annuities, but many individual annuities sold in the United States provide death benefits, and the cost of paying death benefits often offsets the gains resulting from decreases in benefits obligations.

About 3.4 million of the 14 million U.S. residents who died from 2015 through 2019 were in the 25-64 age group.

This year, about 810,000 of the 3.1 million people who have died, or 26%, have been in the 25-64 age group.

In November, at the state level, the percentage of all deaths involving people in the 25-64 age group ranged from 16.2%, in Delaware, up to 30%, in two states.

For a look at the five states with the highest percentage of working-age deaths in November as a percentage of all deaths that month, see the gallery above.

For data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, see the table below.

Going just be the numbers, the District of Columbia should top our list of jurisdictions ranked in terms of working-age deaths as a percentage of all deaths. We excluded the district from state rankings, because it is much more like a city in terms of its population age distribution and other characteristics than it is like a state.

We’re showing November data here, rather than December data, because many states take several weeks to get their data in. Any CDC death numbers for December are likely to change dramatically in the next few weeks as updates flow in.

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U.S. Deaths From All Causes, in November

x Ages 25-64 All Ages Working-Age Deaths, as a Percentage of All Deaths
Alabama 1,104 4,351 25.4%
Alaska 77 331 23.3%
Arizona 1,623 6,690 24.3%
Arkansas 767 2,904 26.4%
California 5,461 22,235 24.6%
Colorado 1,210 4,517 26.8%
Connecticut 429 1,937 22.1%
Delaware 143 883 16.2%
District of Columbia 132 427 30.9%
Florida 4,168 17,645 23.6%
Georgia 1,852 7,156 25.9%
Hawaii 152 836 18.2%
Idaho 382 1,575 24.3%
Illinois 2,252 9,508 23.7%
Indiana 1,315 6,085 21.6%
Iowa 508 2,740 18.5%
Kansas 516 2,416 21.4%
Kentucky 986 4,029 24.5%
Louisiana 764 3,417 22.4%
Maine 328 1,543 21.3%
Maryland 967 4,064 23.8%
Massachusetts 995 4,955 20.1%
Michigan 2,567 11,104 23.1%
Minnesota 860 4,549 18.9%
Mississippi 767 2,813 27.3%
Missouri 1,230 5,626 21.9%
Montana 273 1,137 24.0%
Nebraska 309 1,525 20.3%
Nevada 678 2,509 27.0%
New Hampshire 244 1,196 20.4%
New Jersey 1,374 6,482 21.2%
New Mexico 593 1,975 30.0%
New York 1,941 9,451 20.5%
New York City 1,238 4,750 26.1%
North Carolina 1,668 5,566 30.0%
North Dakota 193 697 27.7%
Ohio 3,103 12,323 25.2%
Oklahoma 838 3,084 27.2%
Oregon 707 3,152 22.4%
Pennsylvania 2,876 12,705 22.6%
Puerto Rico 676 3,038 22.3%
Rhode Island 145 789 18.4%
South Carolina 1,021 3,810 26.8%
South Dakota 151 751 20.1%
Tennessee 1,908 6,720 28.4%
Texas 4,791 17,676 27.1%
Utah 511 2,002 25.5%
Vermont 114 566 20.1%
Virginia 1,610 6,633 24.3%
Washington 1,253 5,393 23.2%
West Virginia NA NA -
Wisconsin 1,157 5,303 21.8%
Wyoming 99 520 19.0%
TOTAL 61,026 254,089 x
MEDIAN x x 23.6%

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Pictured: A chart, based on CDC unweighted death count data, showing what has happened to the number of deaths of people ages 25 through 64, per week, since 2015. (Image: Allison Bell/ALM)