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Where Did All the Workers Go?

Where Did All the Workers Go? | 20 Jan 2023 | In a November 30, 2022, speech on "Inflation and the Labor Market," Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell blamed most of the 3.5 million estimated shortfall in the U.S. labor force on premature retirements. He also blamed a large portion -- between 280,000 and 680,000 – on "long Covid." In a footnote, however, Powell acknowledged a far more somber factor: an estimated 400,000 unexpected deaths among working age people... In 2020, Covid did not take very many lives of healthy young and middle-age people -- for example, the types of people who are employed at large and mid-size companies and who have group life insurance. ...[G]roup life insurance benefit payments in 2020 were barely higher than in 2018... In 2021, however, group life payments exploded by 20.7 percent over the five year average and by 15 percent over the acute pandemic year of 2020. Why would healthy young and middle-age people suddenly begin dying in large numbers in 2021 when they'd navigated 2020 with relative success? Especially when we consider that in 2021, the US administered 520 million Covid-19 vaccine doses. Shouldn't healthy people employed in good jobs with good benefits, now protected with vaccines, have fared better in 2021 than in 2020?