The nation added 390,000 jobs in May, per the latest federal data, the lowest gain of the last 12 months and leaving America still 800,000 short of the pre-pandemic level. Yet employers are desperate to hire more, with a survey last week finding that hiring is the No. 1 worry of US small businesses, higher even than inflation.

One huge missing piece of the puzzle: the millions who’ve left the workforce entirely, with the unemployment benefits that Democrats extended even after the economy was recovering a huge cause.

It’s not that they’re still getting checks; it’s that when people don’t work for a year or more, many of them give up, or just never go back; some retire early, on a far more limited budget than they’d once planned. (Continued COVID hysteria gives people over 50 another reason to stay home, too.)

Count it as yet another lasting cost of the excessive lockdowns and the politicians’ desire to send out checks in the name of “helping.”  

The proof: The US labor-force participation rate, which measures how much of the working-age population is employed or looking, stands at just 62.3%, well below the pre-pandemic level.

Nor is this rocket science. Research from Ivy League and Fed economists has shown that every 10% increase in jobless benefits can drive down job-application numbers by 3%. And it’s established fact that the longer people stay out of the labor market, the less likely they are to return. 

A man walks past a "now hiring" sign posted outside of a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia
The US labor-force participation rate stands at just 62.3%, well below the pre-pandemic level.
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

It’s happened in recession after recession, as Congress extends jobless benefits. After the unemployment extensions spurred by the Great Recession of 2008, the labor-force participation rate cruised down from 66% to below 63%, a trend that only stabilized in 2015 and had just started to rebound when our leaders slammed our economy shut to “slow the spread.” (It didn’t work, by the way.)  

Senselessly long school closures also kept parents from going to work; the long “public health” terror campaign to scare people into staying home hurt, too.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. 

In 2021, long after we had moved through the worst of the pandemic, President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan dumped $1.9 trillion into our already-hot economy, kick-starting the inflation now plaguing the nation. And a good chunk of that change went to more unemployment benefits, even as jobs were coming back in droves. 

a "now hiring" sign is posted at a discount department retail store
Researchers have found that fewer people return to the workforce or attempt to return if there are more benefits given while unemployed.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

A side effect of the “worker shortage,” incidentally, is to move businesses to raise wages to lure new hires. Good for them, but that forces price hikes, too, fueling more inflation. 

Bidenomics has been a disaster across the board, but the folks seduced into permanent joblessness may be its worst victims. Incidentally, because Democrat-run states did the heaviest lockdowns and also went for the Biden unemployment extension that many GOP states refused, these victims are disproportionately urban, minority workers — or, rather, ex-workers. 

Biden on Friday claimed he’d delivered “the most robust recovery in modern history.” Americans will render their own judgment on that come November. 

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