Maine’s labor participation rate of 59% is the eighth lowest in the U.S., two points below the national average and the lowest in New England. There are 21,000+ fewer people in Maine’s workforce now than there were in 2019 just before the pandemic. These are some of the figures set out in a news article, “Where have all the workers gone? And when will they return,” in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.
In a prime example of government/media induced or instilled cognitive distortion, one person commenting on the story offered:
“I don’t understand why none of the stories I read about staffing shortages don’t address the elephant in the room: The number of people who died from covid or who have long covid. Surely that is a major factor.”
Who could possibly believe that?
People who died of or with COVID-19 are dead and are therefore no longer included in the number of those who are eligible to work but aren’t working. And even if people who died from or with COVID-19 were included in the labor participation rate, consider that Maine has 21,000 fewer people in the labor force now than in 2019. From the beginning of the pandemic, Maine records 2,513 people who died with COVID-19. Of those, 1,524 (60.6%) were age 70 or older, and 2,190 (87%) were age 60 or older. People age 70 and older have never made up a significant percentage of the workforce. People under age 60 do make up the vast bulk of the workforce, and in that age group Maine records 323 deaths with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
How can anyone think that COVID-19 deaths and “long covid” are the culprits behind Maine’s low labor participation rate? Government/media instilled or induced cognitive distortions, drummed in, day upon day upon day for the better part of 3 years, that’s how. By the way, the Maine CDC also reports that only 153 people under the age of 25 were in the hospital while they had COVID-19 during the entire pandemic.
Maine’s Drug Data Hub shows that there were 1,338 drug overdose deaths between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2022, mostly from fentanyl. Wow, more than 4 times as many people died of drug overdoses between April of 2020 and June of 2022 than the number of people under age 60 who have died with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic!
Nobody would dare to argue that Maine’s 1,338 drug overdose deaths in the past 2 ½ years are the “elephant in the room” cause of Maine’s 8th from the bottom labor participation rate. Yet, somehow, it seems less ridiculous to some to attribute Maine’s low labor participation rate to COVID-19 deaths and “long covid.” Why? Because somewhere back in 2020, catastrophizing over COVID-19 was made into a sign of virtue and science-following intelligence.
I’ve seen the wheedle (and the bludgeoning and the demonizing) and the damage done.