We all know there's a labor shortage, not just in plastics or manufacturing, but everywhere. Everything from government bonuses (although those have ended) to chaotic school schedules and employees joining "The Great Resignation" have been blamed for the lack of available workers.
But a researcher at the Brookings Institution has been crunching the numbers and is looking at another angle. Perhaps part of the shortage is due to something that isn't being counted: People hit hard by COVID-19 who haven't been able to return to regular duties.
People battling lingering issues — commonly called long COVID — may account for a big number of the reduced workforce, Katie Bach, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, said.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that through October 2021, just over 100 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 have contracted COVID-19. And studies suggest that between 27 percent and 33 percent of COVID-19 patients still experience symptoms months after infection," Bach writes.
"That means 31 million working-age Americans — more than one in seven —may have experienced, or be experiencing, lingering COVID-19 symptoms," she added.
Bach notes that she doesn't have hard data on her theory yet, in part because the data that would confirm it simply isn't being collected at this point.
"Why don't we hear more about it? Poor data may be the culprit; there is no clear and comprehensive source of data about how many people are not working due to long COVID," she said.