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How the labor shortage could last beyond the pandemic

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The New York Times
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According to the latest jobs numbers released earlier this month, the US labor force — those who are either working or looking for work — is still 2.3 million short of what it was in February 2020.That's in large part due, of course, to the ongoing nature of the pandemic: Hospitals are inundated with record numbers of cases, and schools remain a mess. "But let's say a year down the road, when the labor market is looking much healthier, with better opportunities and better health conditions, I would be surprised if some people don't return to the labor force in some shape or form." Most likely scenario: Jobs heat up, and many early retirees decide to return to the workforce. Because of the aging population, the labor force will never return to its pre-pandemic size – but the shrinkage will be in line with what economists expected before COVID.When schools and day-care centers shuttered early in the pandemic, many mothers had to stop working to care for their kids. economists, caregiving accounts for three-quarters of mothers who left the labor force.Women who left their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic and haven't returned have now been out of work for nearly two years. Even if hiring managers prove willing to overlook such gaps in the years ahead, given the unusual nature of the pandemic, many working mothers will find it difficult to reenter the job market at the same level they left it.One worrying factor is that employment in childcare and nursing homes remains depressed by about 10% from pre-COVID levels. Most likely scenario: Mothers in white-collar jobs who left the labor force will mostly be able to return to work once schools stabilize. Considering all the defections from the job market, the swift return of American workers looks far from certain — even once the pandemic ends.

As said here by Aki Ito