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Business Insider reports on a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper suggesting that "COVID-related illness made the US labor force shrink by around 500,000 people."

According to the story, the paper says that during the pandemic, "after calling out sick from work, workers are much less likely to participate in the labor force - which means they're not actively working or looking for work. In fact workers who were out sick due to likely COVID-19 were 7% less likely to be in the labor force a year later compared to peers who didn't call out sick.

"A lot of the drop may be due to workers being pushed from illness into retirement. Workers under the age of 65 weren't as likely to drop out of the labor force after having to call out sick - although their labor force participation did go down."

It is, the story says, "another data point that reinforces why labor shortages may be here to stay, and what's at their root cause: An economy (and life) altering pandemic. Labor force participation is still about 1% below its February 2020 levels, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it's remained persistently lower than pre-pandemic levels even as the country regains all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic."