Heritage Expert: Millions of Missing Workers Leave Economy Languishing

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Heritage Expert: Millions of Missing Workers Leave Economy Languishing

Nov 4, 2022 2 min read

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WASHINGTON—According to new numbers released on Friday, the economy added 261,000 jobs in October as the unemployment rate rose to 3.7%.   

Rachel Greszler, Heritage Foundation research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements, released the following statement in response to the numbers:  

“The Biden administration points to the low unemployment rate as a positive indicator, but even that is delusive because millions of workers have left the labor force. If the same percent of the population that was employed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was also employed today, there would be 3.3 million more people working, earning incomes, and contributing to economic growth. This 3.3 million gap in employment marks a significant increase from a gap of 2.8 million in September.  

“Too few people working is a big reason why the economy is languishing. GDP has grown a measly 0.08% thus far in 2022, with strong indicators that we already are or soon will be in a recession. Meanwhile, excessive inflation continues to eat away workers’ wage gains, leaving the average worker with the equivalent of a $3,000 pay cut since January 2021.  

“While there are still nearly two job openings for every unemployed worker, that’s likely to change over the coming months as employers fulfill back-orders and pare back on hiring. Moreover, the Biden administration’s assault on independent workers and small business entrepreneurs will take away jobs and income opportunities and make it harder for small businesses to compete.  

“Work is crucial to economic growth, but it’s also fundamental to American society and to human flourishing. By suppressing work, the Biden administration’s policies guarantee a smaller economy, lower incomes, greater dependence on government programs, higher taxes, and an even more precarious U.S. fiscal situation. We need policies that create an environment where people want to work and are able to expand their productive capacities. This will lead to higher output and bigger incomes, empowering everyday Americans instead of politicians.”  

BACKGROUND: The Department of Labor’s independent contractor rule will make it harder for people to be their own bosses. Considering that 32 million people who performed independent work in 2021 said that they are unable to work for a traditional employer, this rule would mean that fewer people can work and earn incomes. 

And the National Labor Relations Board’s joint employer rule could upend the franchise business model that’s helped many Americans become small business owners. That threatens the future incomes and jobs of nearly 800,000 independent franchise owners and the 8.5 million workers they employ.   

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