Working in a Grocery Store Is a Pretty Safe Job (Updated)

A plexiglass shield protects this Ralph's checker from customers who might have COVID-19.Kevin Drum

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There’s something weird here:

Next to health-care providers, no workforce has proved more essential during the novel coronavirus pandemic than the 3 million U.S. grocery store employees who restock shelves and freezers, fill online orders and keep checkout lines moving….Some liken their job to working in a war zone, knowing that the simple act of showing up to work could ultimately kill them. At least 41 grocery workers have died so far. They include a Trader Joe’s employee in New York, a Safeway worker in Seattle….

In the country as a whole, there have been 22,000 deaths among 330 million people. That’s 67 per million. If you adjust for age, there have been about 4,400 deaths among those 20-64 years old. There are 200 million people in that age group, so that’s 22 deaths per million.

According to the Post, there have been 41 deaths among 3 million grocery store workers. That’s only 14 per million.

Any way you cut it, being a grocery store worker seems to be a pretty safe job. That doesn’t make much sense, but the numbers are what they are. Have I made a mistake somewhere?

UPDATE: It turns out that grocery workers skew very young. If you analyze them more carefully by age group, their death rate is 14 per million vs. 9 per million expected. That is, about 50 percent higher than the general population. Details here.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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