Where have all the workers gone is still a question I hear. Restaurants are closed some days because they cannot get the staff. Dry cleaners refuse to accept clothes after 5 pm for the same reason.
In the Augusta MSA, there are 263,000 people in the labor force, down from 270,000 pre-pandemic (see below). Nationally, about 2.6 million workers are in the workforce compared to pre-pandemic. Although the labor force level by demographic is not available for the local area, national data suggests who has returned to work and who hasn’t.
Prime-age workers, aged 25 to 54 have increased their labor force participation rate from 83.0% pre-pandemic to 83.5% in June 2023. That may not sound like a lot, but it is over 2 million extra workers. Younger people have also returned to the labor force in larger numbers than before the pandemic. Those aged 20 to 24 have increased the labor force by 300,000, and those 16 to 19 by 70,000. However, both the younger age groups have seen their labor force levels decline over the past six months. By contrast, there are a quarter of a million fewer workers over 55 in the workforce, although there has been an increase in level over the last few months.
About 2 million extra men are in the labor force relative to pre-pandemic, while there are an extra 800,000 women in the labor force. The white labor force has increased by 300,000 people, but the Black labor force is up by over 750,000, and Hispanic or Latino by 2.2 million.
I don’t want to start any more generational wars than we already have (OK Boomer! Snowflakes), but as a proud member of Generation X, I can say we are keeping the economy going (OK, and millennials!)!!