The Corner

Economy & Business

The Missing Workers: Some Evidence

Scott Sumner looks at employment trends for different age groups to discern whether child-care issues, fear of COVID, or overly generous unemployment insurance is keeping potential workers on the sidelines:

I am especially struck by the fact that employment for 20-24 year olds seems to have declined more sharply than for 25-54 year olds.  They experience less health risk than 25-54 year olds, and they probably have less need for childcare.  On the other hand, 20-24 year olds tend to be lower wage workers, the group most likely to earn more on unemployment insurance than on their former jobs.

While I suspect that all three factors are depressing labor supply, the strongest evidence seems to be for the effect of the supplemental UI program.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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