| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Americans blame COVID for their inability to find jobs

As more people are vaccinated and unemployment continues to fall, fewer Americans are claiming the coronavirus epidemic as a rationale for not looking for job.

COVID-19 caused 2.5 million people not to look for job in May, according to the Labor Department, down from 2.85 million the month before and 9.7 million a year ago. This equates to around 2.5 percent of the roughly 100 million working-age Americans who were unemployed in May, compared to 9.5 percent of those who were unemployed or searching for employment a year ago.

“We expect COVID obstacles have continued to lessen and led some workers to return to the labor force in May,” said Shannon Seery, an economist at Wells Fargo.

According to a Reuters calculation, about 52 percent of the US population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 immunization, with about 42 percent having been fully vaccinated.

COVID-related joblessness was revealed alongside the government’s monthly employment report, which revealed that nonfarm payrolls expanded by 559,000 jobs in May after increasing by 278,000 in April.

In May 2020, the Labor Department began asking families a new series of questions about how COVID was affecting their capacity to work, and data released this month indicated a fourth consecutive monthly drop in those blaming the pandemic for keeping them out of the labor market.

“A better health situation would make COVID less of a factor in people’s decisions not to look for work,” said Oxford Economics’ Nancy Vanden Houten.

Furthermore, only 25.2 million Americans teleworked or worked from home in May as a result of COVID, accounting for 16.6% of the almost 152 million individuals employed that month, according to the survey. That’s down from 48.7 million people working remotely in May of last year, which was more than a third of all employed workers.

As pandemic restrictions have lifted, more firms have been summoning people back to work, and waves of businesses that require on-site labor, including as restaurants, have reopened in recent weeks.

  • Reuters