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Census: Nearly 3 million Americans cited COVID as the reason they weren’t working last month

Nearly 3 million Americans cited COVID-19 as the reason they took time off from work last month. according to New Census Bureau data.

Of the 94,318,693 unemployed adults in December, 1,880,551 were predicted to be “suffering from coronavirus symptoms or caring for someone,” which included prolonged COVID symptoms. rice field.

An estimated 1,014,887 Americans also did not work “because of fear of contracting or spreading coronavirus,” the Census revealed.

Census researchers extrapolated the numbers from data collected from December 9 to 19 in the most recent Household Pulse Survey, a weekly measure of the social impact of the pandemic that began in April 2020. bottom.

“Workers have learned for the better part of two years that COVID-19 is the best excuse not to work,” said Jeffrey Tucker, director of the Brownstone Institute for Socio-Economic Studies on the free market.

The Bureau did not provide an interpretation of the numbers.

“The Census Bureau has collected these data and made them available to the public for further analysis. No specific analysis has been performed on these findings,” the U.S. Census Bureau said in an email to The Washington Times. says.

Census figures reflect four pandemic unemployment surveys released last year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In the most-cited response last May, 28% of respondents said they were unable to find work due to a personal illness, unchanged from November 2021. period.

Curtis Dubey, chief economist at the Chamber of Commerce, said the survey showed that labor force participation “has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels.”

“There are many reasons, including retirement, a decline in legal immigration, childcare challenges and increased savings due to the pandemic,” Dubey said in a statement Friday. is what people say is being kept out of the workforce because of illness.”

In a May survey, 66% of respondents who lost their jobs during the pandemic said they were “moderately active” or “not at all active” in their job search. Another 24% of him said government aid packages during the pandemic “have motivated him to stop actively looking for work,” reported his business lobbying group.

About 2.9 million Americans, the Census estimated last month, have avoided work for COVID-related reasons, a similar number that has lost its workforce since the pandemic began.

About 2.8 million Americans in the nation’s workforce remain below pre-pandemic levels, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis of Bureau of Labor and Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Friday.

But the Census’ prediction that millions didn’t work last month because of COVID could be misleading, said Rachel Grezler, a senior researcher at Heritage.

In an email, she said new COVID cases averaged about 450,000 per week in December, the peak time for infections. Only 452,000 people were not looking for work during the year.

“These vastly different estimates seem illogical, but many of the apparent discrepancies are the results of the questions asked,” Gressler said. , or how many people are not looking for work, or how many people are not working on a given day due to the direct health effects of COVID? ?-19?”

An estimated 41,911,825 Americans were out of work last month because they retired, according to the latest survey. Another 10,982,276 were ill or disabled for reasons other than COVID, and 4,542,064 “did not want to be employed at this time.”

Millions have reported using federal assistance programs in the past seven days to help cover their expenses last month.

The Census estimates that 10,494,467 unemployed adults rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 2,299,227 use the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) for women, infants and children. I’m here.

According to the census, another 1,400,052 people received unemployment insurance benefits and 2,109,499 were dependent on loan deferrals or forgiveness.

About 3.8 million Americans with SNAP, WIC, unemployment insurance and loan forgiveness were not to blame for the coronavirus or natural disasters, said Michael Austin, former chief economic adviser to two Kansas governors. said Mr.

“Too many Americans are unable to work because of government subsidies,” Austin, a Project 21 economist at the National Center for Public Policy Studies, said in an email. “Don’t expect the workforce to recover, with or without COVID-19, unless the federal government pulls out.” Census: Nearly 3 million Americans cited COVID as the reason they weren’t working last month

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