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 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.
U.S. Deaths From All Causes, in November
|x||Ages 25-64||All Ages||Working-Age Deaths, as a Percentage of All Deaths|
|District of Columbia||132||427||30.9%|
|New York City||1,238||4,750||26.1%|
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)