Help My Career: People still afraid of catching COVID-19 are costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Stock Market

More than two years after the coronavirus pandemic began, social distancing is keeping some workers from going back to work. That’s according to this working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Some people are not prepared to let their guard down — in the knowledge that COVID-19 has not gone away. Some 13% of American workers say they will continue social distancing as the economy opens up and cases fall, and another 45% said they will do so in limited ways. Meanwhile, only 42% of those workers said they plan a “complete return”.

The study, entitled “Long Social Distancing,” estimated that people’s unwillingness to be in close proximity to each other has reduced labor participation by 2.5 percentage points in the first half of 2022 compared to what economists would normally expect to see — translating to $250 billion in potential annual output, representing nearly a 1 percentage-point drop.  The share of working-age people in the labor force dropped for the third month in a row. Some 186,000 people left the labor force in November, the latest government figures show. The labor force participation rate ticked down to 62.1% in November from 62.2% in the previous month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said …

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