US Workforce Positivity Rate Hits Two Decade High

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US Workforce Drug Testing Data Reveals All Time High Positivity Rate in The Last 20 Years


Drug testing data provided by the 2022 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ provide stunning statistics with regards to the US based workforce and illustrate that the rate of positive drug test results has hit its all-time high since 2001 and was up more than 30% in the overall combined US workforce.

The current DTI data was based on a study conducted on more than 11 million suppressed urine, hair and oral fluid drug testing results that we collected and analyzed between January and December 2021.

Testing Rates for Regulated vs. Non-Regulated Employers

Diving deeper into the current Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™, we found that the overall positivity rate in the combined US workforce was up to 4.6% in 2021 which ism 2.2% higher positivity rate than 2020.  Furthermore the 2021 positivity rate is up 31.4% from its all-time low of just 3.5% (2010-2012).

The combined U.S. workforce includes the general U.S. workforce which is typically comprised of conducting drug testing under company-policy by private employers as well as the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. (Regulated employers) These regulated employers include federal employees, public transportation, aviation, Trucking, Pipeline, Railroad, nuclear power industries, and USCG and can include workers such as pilots, truck drivers, train conductors and others required to drug test under federal legislation

Regulated Employers

The overall positivity in the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce which was based on nearly 2.7 million urine drug tests remained level year over year (2.2% in 2020 and 2021). These results were 4.8% higher than 2017 (2.1% in 2017 versus 2.2% in 2021). In the general U.S. workforce, positivity increased 1.8% (5.5% in 2020 versus 5.6% in 2021) and was 12% higher than in 2017 (5.0% in 2017 versus 5.6% in 2021) and up each of the last five years.

An alarming positivity rate has skyrocketed since 2017 for post-accident vs pre-employment rates for cocaine as demonstrated by the 2022 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Image below.  The infographic below further illustrates post-accident positives have risen from 7.7% in 2017 to 9.7% in 2021 for the US General Workforce.



As States continue to pass legislation legalizing marijuana on the State level, we see a more relaxed approach for employers when implementing a drug testing program.  Many employers have removed marijuana from their drug testing program to be more flexible in dealing with the shortage of employees in the workforce for both recruitment and retention.  Marijuana continues to be a schedule I drug and illegal on the Federal level and must be tested for in all Federally regulated drug testing programs.  No matter which workforce your business falls under, employers should strive to maintain a safe working environment.  Imagine what the positivity rates would look like if all employers tested for marijuana and other illegal substances.  To read and review Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ in its entirety click here.


Accredited Drug Testing is a nationwide TPA that can assist both regulated and non-regulated employers on the implementation and maintenance of their drug free workplace program. We offer standard drug testing panels along with customized panels to comply with your company policy.


“When You Need A Test, Choose The Best”


SOURCE Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™

For more information contact John Burgos (407)636-6725


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