Behind Labor Shortage Are Health Issues

As pandemic patience wears thin, survey finds concerns keep people out of job market
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2021 4:13 PM CST
Behind Labor Shortage Are Health Issues
A help wanted sign is displayed last month outside a retail store in Vernon Hills, Ill.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Pushing the economic levers available to the federal government might not be enough to solve the job market's problems. There's evidence that physical and mental health issues are a major cause of the nation's labor shortage, Axios reports. A survey of 5,000 Americans by McKinsey found that 30% of those who aren't working said the reason was their physical health, while 15% blamed mental health problems. Among those who don't have a job and aren't looking for one, 20% cite their mental health as the reason, and 45% blame physical problems, American Opportunity Survey found.

Mental health issues are widespread, with the survey showing 37% of respondents have sought treatment for their mental health or been diagnosed with issues. Anxiety, tension, and depression are reflected worldwide as the pandemic drags on, with populations out of patience, per the New York Times. "I know it will only get worse, it won't stop, the pandemic will only turn more life-consuming," said a teacher in Moscow. "It is all chaos, like a fantasy film. You watch all these apocalypse films and realize their writers were real prophets." The situation appears to improve, with places reopening, only to have new, frightening variants and outbreaks surface. In France, cases of depression and anxiety have doubled. Young people are the most stressed, a US survey shows.

Those ages 13 to 24 say their education and social life, and reaching their career goals, have been made more difficult by the pandemic, a higher share than older groups, according to the survey. The American Psychological Association had warned in October that Gen Z adults are the most likely to have greater difficulty making major life decisions, partly because of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, per the Washington Post. It's a job market issue for them, too: The government said in August that unemployment lags 2019 levels for those 16 and 24. And the International Labor Organization said that globally, the job picture is worsening much faster for members of Gen Z. A 23-year-old in London asked, "How much of our lives can we give up for this?" (More job market stories.)

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