During the decade between the Great Recession and the coronavirus pandemic (2010 – 2020), the U.S. economy added an average of 180,000 workers monthly. Had this trend not been interrupted by COVID-19, the United States would theoretically have added nearly 6.5 million new workers during the three-year period ending January 2023, cumulating in a total employed persons count of just over 165 million.
Compared to this trended figure, the actual number of employed persons stood at 160.1 million in January 2023, representing a much smaller gain of only 1.3 million workers. These missing 5.2 million workers are why labor has become — and will remain — the greatest constraint to economic growth in 2023 and for years to come for every corner of the economy.
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