First-ever analysis of industry-specific drug testing data

Drug use by the U.S. workforce increased each year — and by double-digits over two years — between 2015 and 2017, in five of 16 major U.S. industry sectors analyzed, according to a first-ever analysis of industry-specific data from more than ten million urine drug test results performed by Quest Diagnostics.

The data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ industry analysis show that the Retail Trade (5.3%), Health Care and Social Assistance (4.7%), and Real Estate Rental and Leasing (4.6%) sectors had the highest overall positivity rates in 2017, while the Utilities (2.8%) and Finance and Insurance (2.6%) sectors had the lowest rates.

Five sectors experienced year-over-year increases with a double-digit increase in their positivity rates between 2015 and 2017: Transportation and Warehousing (21.4%); Other Services (Except Public Administration) (15.4%); Finance and Insurance (13%); Retail Trade (12.8%); and Wholesale Trade (11.8%).

“Our analysis suggests that employers can’t assume that workforce drug use isn’t an issue in their industry. In fact, drug test positivity in the majority of industry sectors analyzed is growing,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. “The highest rates were in consumer-facing industries, including jobs in Retail and Health Care and Social Assistance.”

Marijuana tops the list as the most detected substance

Consistent with the annual Drug Testing Index report, marijuana was the most commonly detected substance, with the highest drug positivity rate of all drug classes across the majority of industry sectors. Marijuana positivity was highest in Accommodation and Food Services, at 3.5 percent in 2017, more than 34 percent higher than the national positivity rate of 2.6 percent for the general U.S. workforce.

Eight sectors experienced year-over-year increases with at least 20% increases in marijuana positivity between 2015 and 2017:

  • Transportation and Warehousing (33.3%)
  • Other Services (except Public Administration) (33.3%)
  • Construction (26.7%)
  • Wholesale Trade (23.5%)
  • Manufacturing (23.1%)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (20.7%)
  • Administrative Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services (19.0%)
  • Retail Trade (18.5%)

Read the exclusive story by USA Today with an interview with Dr. Barry Sample and interactive chart. Other media coverage includes CBS News, The Washington Post, Forbes, Occupational Health & Safety, Transport Topics, Safety+HealthINSIDER, DealbreakerIndustry WeekMaterial Handling and LogisticsGrowthOpThe CannabistPoliticoGo by Truck NewsThe Business Journals, Daily MailBusiness Insurance, Hartford Business Journal, POLITICO, The Denver Post, Crain’s Chicago Business, The Voice of California, NJ.comEHS Daily AdvisorWorkersCompensation.com, The FixWNBJ – Tennessee, Electrical Contractorand Safety.BLR.com.

See the drug positivity rates by industry sector infographic or download the brochure.

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