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Who Are America’s Missing Workers?


On a basic level, there are two reasons that employers have been so desperate to hire workers as the United States emerges from the pandemic. The first is that demand for goods and services rebounded. The second: A bunch of former workers never showed up to take the jobs that resulted.More than two years after the Covid-19 recession officially ended, that second factor — the supply of labor — is still holding back the economy, as some sectors haven’t found the workers they need to operate at capacity. Only in August did the work force return to its prepandemic size, which is millions short of where it would have been had it continued to grow at its prepandemic rate.In simple numbers, some of that gap is due to Covid’s death toll: more than a million people, about 260,000 of them short of retirement age. In addition, a sharp slowdown in legal immigration has pared the potential work force by 3.2 million, relative to its trajectory before 2017, according to calculations b …

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