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How Many Workers Are Truly “Missing” from the Labor Force?
As of March 2022, the U.S. labor force participation rate remained one percentage point below its pre-pandemic level. After accounting for the effects of slower population growth and the aging of thepopulation in the past two years, I estimate that around 2 million workers are missing from the laborforce. Individuals age 65 and older, whose participation rates remain persistently below pre-pandemiclevels, constitute most of the missing labor force.
Lower Labor Force Participation Rates and Slower Population Growth Pose Challenges for Employers
As the nation recovers from the pandemic-induced recession, finding workers to fill job openings has beena headwind for many regions and industries. Although many researchers have pointed to the sharp declinein labor force participation rates as an explanation, the role of population growth over time has receivedless attention. We examine state and national trends in these measures and show that slower populationgrowth and an aging population may put downward pressure on labor force growth for some time.
President's Message: Bringing Talent to Small Towns
Over the last few decades, we've seen small towns struggle, particularly those that lost manufacturers, which had historically helped build communities, employ residents, and forge local identities. As a natural reaction, economic development in small-town America has often focused on replacing those big employers. These efforts attracted investment, but success wasn't easy.