Chart of the Day: Substance Abuse, the Chief Cause of Low Labor Participation Rates in America?

Axios – The labor force participation rate – the share of the adult population, either working or looking for work – has not quite recovered from pre-pandemic levels. A new paper sheds light on one factor behind the shortfall – substance abuse. See the labor participation rate in the chart below.

Labor Participation Rates 2022-03

Between 9% and 26% of the decline in workforce participation between February 2020 and January 2022, among people aged 25 to 34, is probably due to a rise in dependency on substances like opioids and methamphetamines. That’s according to findings in a paper released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In recent months, labor force participation increased – it’s now a half-percentage point lower than pre-pandemic. And 18% to 52% of that remaining shortfall could be from those struggling with substance abuse, says Karen Kopecky, an economist at the Atlanta Fed and co-author of the paper.

A surge in opioid abuse dating back to the early 2000s was already keeping an increasing number of prime-age workers out of the labor force. The pandemic worsened the situation. See below the alarming trends in substance abuse deaths and learn more here.

Drug Alcohol Deaths (25-54) Historical 2021The Edge Treatment Center grapples with addiction daily. Addiction is a widespread issue that affects more people than you think. Watch this sobering video from our Medical Director, Dr. David I. Deyhimy, MD, FASAM, to get a true idea of the human impact of addiction.

Key takeaways from Dr. David I. Deyhimy presentation include:

  • 22 million people suffer from active substance use disorders
  • 45 million people are directly impacted by addiction.
  • 23 million people are in addiction recovery.
  • 1 in 3 households suffer from, are exposed to, or are otherwise impacted by addiction.

The trend and the scale of the substance abuse problem in America are shocking. For sure, if we have an entire generation of folks battling substance abuse, it will be hard to hold a job and/or be effective at it. What this means for the broader economy is another issue. The drumbeat of cries for government help is already sounding.

So, shall we implement government social plan “A” or government social plan “B?” Let the debates start. But before we do this, perhaps we must consider the cost of the change in our culture over the past few decades that has led us to this point.

What has happened to the traditional family, who in the past have managed and regulated these types of issues? So many families are broken and the youth is being managed by Hollywood and social media – we are so wonderfully woke now. Has this served us well? Perhaps we should start here first.

In the meantime, we are only one government program away from a social utopia … 🙁

Click here for more information on substance abuse help.

See more Chart of the Day posts.

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  1. Well what did you expect? We stupidly legalized much of it for so called “recreational” purposes. It all started in the 60’s with the flower children. Tune in, turn on and tune out. Remember those words coming out of think tanks in California like USLA, Berkley and others? Those liberal children are now the grandparents of liberals today. Is it working out? I don’t think so.

  2. There was a Fortune 500 meeting in Seattle some years back before Covid. The number one complaint by CEO’s was skilled labor shortage due to applicants not being able to pass drug test. Liberal leftist policies have encouraged drug use. The country has also abandoned it’s moral anchor, obedience to God will. Substance and acting out addictions, e.g. lust addiction, are a result of a spiritual malady that only the grace of God, accountability and behavior modification can address. Our government enables addiction by giving out free syringes, legalizing marijuana and not enforcing border security to stem the flood of drugs into our country. I believe they do so on purpose to create a drugged zombie citizenry.

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