Study: COVID Fear To Cause Long-Term Labor Shortage

A Help Wanted sign in a store window. Photo by Maya Reagan, Carolina Journal

By David Bass
Carolina Journal

New research predicts long-term pain for the labor market due to around 3 million workers who plan to remain permanently sidelined over concerns of physical illness or physical impairment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research team — represented by scholars from ITAM Business, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago — named this phenomenon “long social distancing.” They found that more than 10% of Americans who worked in 2019 will continue social distancing after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Another 45% will engage in limited forms of social distancing.

“Long Social Distancing is more prevalent among women, older persons, the less educated, and those with lower earnings,” the researchers found. “By our estimates, Long Social Distancing lowers force participation by about 2.5 percentage points as of early 2022. This drag on labor force participation shows no sign of abating over the past year, suggesting it could depress labor force size for a long time.”

The U.S. labor force is still missing around 3.5 million workers, based on where the labor market stood in the months immediately preceding the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The March labor force participation rate is 62.4%, one full percentage point below the February 2020 rate of 63.4%.

“This research demonstrates another significant negative impact of the COVID lockdowns that will extend far beyond the pandemic,” said Brian Balfour, senior vice president of research at the John Locke Foundation. “The lowered labor-force participation is especially troubling given the historic price inflation we are currently experiencing. Fewer workers means fewer goods and services being chased by the recent massive influx of newly printed money — a toxic combination that will exacerbate the inflation crisis.”


  1. Not true. Labor shortage due to government handing out fiat currency. Welcome to the Nanny State.

  2. I assume most of this is just opportunistic laziness. However I know that some have been so thoroughly brainwashed by watching CNN newsfeeds 24 hours a day for the last 2 year that there really are people who are too afraid to live.

  3. How is it when we have millions of illegal immigrants crossing the border do we have labor shortages? The only way that can happen is that once an illegal family crossed the border they are enrolled in public assistance and then the need to work evaporates. The flood across the border is more bodies than we have jobs for folks, the math is simple.

  4. Another Study full of percentages, numbers, predictions, and estimates by the John Lock Foundation via the Carolina Journal.

  5. When you have approximately one million people die from Covid in the U.S. that’s gonna leave a dent in your workforce. If only half of them were gainfully employed that still leaves a huge void. During WWII our casualties were less than half what they’ve been with Covid and it was devastating to our economy. A country can’t lose that many citizens without it having a huge negative impact on the economy.

    • 1. Nowhere near a million people have died OF Covid. If you believe that you really are brainwashed.

      2. Even if that number were true, easily over 80% of that number were elderly who were already out of the workforce.

  6. Fear of manual labor is the cause of the labor shortage. They’d rather sit on their rear ends and play on their phones than be productive citizens. I can’t wait for another Republican to become Governor and President. Hopefully the easy jobs will be gone and the will have to shovel Sh!+ for a living.

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