2/2  Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People  wait outside Kentucky Career Center in Frankfort Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People wait outside Kentucky Career Center in Frankfort 2/2

By Howard Schneider and Jonnelle Marte

(Reuters) - Judith Ramirez received a letter this month that she'd been dreading: The Honolulu hotel that furloughed her from a housekeeping job in March, during the lockdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, made her layoff permanent.

Ramirez, 40, was originally told she might be called back after business picked up. But infections increased in Hawaii over the summer and quarantine restrictions for visitors were extended, a blow to the state's tourism-dependent hotels.

Six months into the pandemic, evidence of longer-term damage to the U.S. labor market is emerging, according to separate analyses of detailed monthly jobs data by labor economists and Reuters.

Retirements are drifting up, women aren't reengaging with the job market quickly, and "temporary" furloughs like Ramirez's are becoming permanent - trends that could weigh on the U.S. economic recovery in the short term as well as the country's prospects in the long term.

Economic growth depends on how many people work. If more retire, or are kept from the job market because of childcare or health and safety issues, growth is slower.

"In the first few months of the recession we were much more focused on how many jobs could come back, how many jobs could be preserved," said Kathryn Anne Edwards, a labor economist at RAND Corp. "Now the question is really how much damage has this done."


The U.S. economic drag is falling heavily on two groups, women https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-usa-women/analysis-working-women-and-especially-single-moms-are-hit-hard-by-coronavirus-downturn-idUSL1N2CP02O and older workers, who fueled https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-women/tight-u-s-labor-market-shrinks-gender-and-race-gaps-to-record-lows-idUSKCN1VR2JC a rise in labor force participation prior to the pandemic. That supported stronger-than-expected economic growth in 2018 and 2019, and showed how a historically low unemployment rate drew people back into jobs.

Those workers may now be getting stranded. Women and workers aged 65 and older make up a disproportionate share of the 3.7 million people no longer working or actively seeking a job since the pandemic hit, Labor Department data show.

People 65 and older made up less than 7% of the workforce in February, but 17% of those who have left the labor market through August. Women previously accounted for 47% of the workforce, but make up 54% of the departed.

Initial evidence of longer-term trouble is starting to show in the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) that forms the basis of regular government employment reports.

After a spike in women leaving the labor force in the early months of the pandemic, particularly to tend to family responsibilities, there's been slower movement back into jobs compared to the months before the pandemic, according to an analysis of CPS data by Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab.

The percentage of women and men who moved from employed to out of the labor force jumped as the pandemic layoffs hit in April. The number of women, however, who cited child care or family responsibilities as the reason, increased 178%, while the number of men citing it less than doubled, Bunker's analysis showed.

The percentage of those women moving in the other direction month to month - from caring for family into a job - meanwhile has dropped, to a low of 5% in April from 6.6% in 2019, though it rose to 5.8% in July. It is lower for men too.

The data "suggests ... that being out of the labor force for family reasons is a 'stickier' state" than prior to the pandemic, Bunker said.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found CPS data shows a rising share of workers 65 and older are calling it quits, a development many economists expected given the risk COVID-19 poses to older people.

Nearly a fifth of that age group working as of July 2019 were retired as of July of this year, compared to 17% for the prior year, the center's research concluded. The percentage of these workers who consider themselves "retired" instead of merely out of work also rose steadily in recent months, from 14.2% in April to 19.5% in June.

"It is something we expected might happen - that people who were close to retirement might transition earlier," said Anqi Chen, the center's assistant director for savings research.


The situation is rekindling debates from a decade ago about how unemployment can lead to long-term economic "scarring," but the specifics are different.

The 2007-2009 recession fell disproportionately on the male-dominated construction and manufacturing industries. The pandemic has caused more job losses in services concentrated among women, and brought the added complication of school closings and concerns about the safety of daycare centers and nursing homes.

The road back to employment may be getting harder, as suggested in the analysis of CPS data by Rand's Edwards. Of 7.6 million people "temporarily" laid off as of June, the number who had found jobs by July - 2.4 million - was eclipsed by the 2.8 million who either left the labor force altogether or said they were no longer expecting to get their jobs back. That's the first time in the pandemic that was the case.

Ramirez, the laid-off housekeeper, said she has been looking for a job, but not many places are hiring with travel sharply down from pre-pandemic levels and many retail stores closed. Some businesses say they have a list of furloughed employees waiting to be called back. "There's no hiring here," she said. "People don't know we are struggling."

Other relevant articles 
[2020-09-14 10:20:45] German economic recovery weakens but set to continue in...
[2020-09-14 10:20:45] Indian government to infuse $2.72 billion in state-run banks
[2020-09-14 09:50:26] Spain to extend furlough scheme into 2021, Labour Minister says
[2020-09-14 01:15:31] Japan manufacturers remain gloomy for 14th month - Reuters Tankan
[2020-09-12 20:10:16] Mexico adds more than 90,000 tax-paying jobs in August - IMSS
[2020-09-11 22:00:19] Yields drop despite higher inflation, after supply passes
[2020-09-11 21:45:12] U.S. economy is improving, weeks before the election. Will Trump...
[2020-09-11 20:10:13] U.S. fiscal year budget deficit tops $3 trillion
[2020-09-11 17:16:12] Fast take: Used cars, new couches cost more, but unlikely to...
[2020-09-11 15:00:16] U.S. consumer prices increase solidly in August
[2020-09-11 14:50:12] Brazil services activity up 2.6% in July, less than expected
[2020-09-11 08:15:11] UK economy grows by 6.6% in July, extending recovery from COVID...
[2020-09-10 19:25:08] Fast take: Jobless claims and the U.S. presidential race
[2020-09-10 15:10:53] U.S. producer prices beat expectations in August
[2020-09-10 14:50:07] U.S. weekly jobless claims stuck at higher levels
[2020-09-10 14:40:07] Initial Jobless Claims Come in at Higher Than Expected 884,000
[2020-09-10 13:20:07] Pandemic likely to force India to borrow more, deficit...
[2020-09-10 11:20:07] Exclusive: BOJ to offer brighter view on economy, output on signs...
[2020-09-10 10:10:07] Zombies or just sleeping? German insolvencies fall despite...
[2020-09-10 08:50:07] China auto sales in August rise 11.6%, fifth month of gain
[2020-09-09 19:05:07] U.S. job openings push higher; more workers quitting
[2020-09-09 17:00:09] U.S. job openings rise in July; more workers quitting
[2020-09-09 16:30:15] Madrid bars and restaurants call for help as COVID crisis hits
[2020-09-09 16:10:07] Madrid bar and restaurants call for help as COVID crisis hits
[2020-09-09 12:05:06] Thai economy to shrink 7%-9% this yr, protests a worry: business...
[2020-09-09 09:35:06] Dubai non-oil private sector growth slows in August: PMI
[2020-09-09 06:05:06] Chinese Factory Gate Prices Point Towards Continuous Recovery,...
[2020-09-09 02:15:07] UK firms, worried about pandemic and Brexit, hire temp workers
[2020-09-09 01:25:06] South Korea August jobless rate logs fastest monthly drop since...
[2020-09-08 11:25:02] Euro zone GDP revised up, but still a record drop
[2020-09-08 10:55:03] UK takeover deals slump in second quarter, statistics office says
[2020-09-08 10:40:02] UberEats, Deliveroo workers drive French surge in new companies
[2020-09-08 08:50:02] Indian economy projected to contract 11.8% year on year, Fitch...
[2020-09-08 08:30:03] Global economy seeing sharper V recovery, raising case for...
[2020-09-08 03:45:25] Australia business conditions soften, confidence still fragile:...
[2020-09-08 01:51:42] Japan real wages decline for fifth month in July as pandemic woes persist
[2020-09-08 01:10:25] Staycations and home office equipment boost UK spending in August
[2020-09-07 16:35:30] German Finance Minister Scholz eyes more debt to support recovery
[2020-09-07 15:55:21] Electric car warning signals as Denmark calculates cost of switch
[2020-09-07 09:00:25] Modest rise in German July industry output points to slow...
[2020-09-07 07:55:21] Brexit showdown as UK threatens to undermine divorce treaty
[2020-09-07 07:30:22] German industry foresees slight rise in output in coming months:...
[2020-09-07 07:05:21] China Sees Exports Rise, But Imports Drop, in August
[2020-09-07 05:50:22] China August exports rise 9.5% year-on-year, beat forcasts;...
[2020-09-05 05:55:14] China auto revenue, profit likely flat this year, official says
[2020-09-04 19:45:11] Fast take: The jobs report and the U.S. presidential race
[2020-09-04 16:30:11] Canada adds more jobs in August, but pace of gains slows
[2020-09-04 14:40:10] U.S. Nonfarm Payrolls up 1.371 Mln in August, Boosted by Census
[2020-09-04 12:55:10] Special Report: Australia faces down China in high-stakes...
[2020-09-04 12:10:10] Exclusive: White House asks U.S. agencies to detail all...
[2020-09-04 10:45:10] UK construction recovery slows unexpectedly in August: PMI
[2020-09-04 09:25:15] Hungary must boost economy as it faces second COVID wave: PM...
[2020-09-04 08:45:11] Weak rise in German industry orders dents hopes for robust...
[2020-09-04 07:50:10] UK sees just 30-40% chance of Brexit trade deal: The Times
[2020-09-04 07:20:27] Japan second-quarter GDP slump may be worse than expected as...
[2020-09-04 06:25:29] New UK car registrations slip in August, industry data shows
[2020-09-04 01:15:10] Job ads slow in UK but office experts in demand, survey shows
[2020-09-03 16:15:07] U.S. service sector activity slows in August - ISM survey
[2020-09-03 15:40:07] U.S. second-quarter productivity revised sharply higher; fastest...
[2020-09-03 14:45:07] U.S. weekly jobless claims drop more than expected
[2020-09-03 14:40:06] Initial Jobless Claims Fall to 881,000 in Latest Week
[2020-09-03 13:45:07] Struggling airlines lead U.S. planned job cuts in August: report
[2020-09-03 11:20:14] Euro zone July retail sales much worse than expected
[2020-09-03 10:55:06] Britons slowly returning to workplaces, statistics office says
[2020-09-03 10:45:06] UK job losses accelerate in August, PMI shows
[2020-09-03 10:20:26] Euro zone economic recovery loses momentum in August: PMI
[2020-09-03 08:10:06] French economic recovery plan key to averting job losses: PM
[2020-09-03 06:30:09] China’s Services Industry Sees Fourth Consecutive Month of Growth
[2020-09-03 06:30:09] Saudi non-oil private sector deteriorates in August after tax...
[2020-09-03 05:55:21] Analysts upgrade Australia, New Zealand dollars outlook but doubt...
[2020-09-03 01:15:11] More than 10% of British shops vacant, survey shows
[2020-09-02 16:20:07] U.S. factory orders rise more than expected in July
[2020-09-02 14:40:07] U.S. private payrolls increase modestly in August-ADP
[2020-09-02 14:20:07] ADP: U.S. Added Only 428k Private Sector Jobs in August, vs 950k Expected
[2020-09-02 08:55:06] Weak German retail sales dash hopes for strong recovery
[2020-09-02 01:25:14] UK retailers step up their discounting in August, BRC says
[2020-09-01 20:40:04] U.S. employment projected to increase 6 million from 2019 to...
[2020-09-01 18:30:08] U.S. manufacturing activity at nearly two-year high; new orders...
[2020-09-01 16:25:03] U.S. construction spending almost flat in July: Commerce Department
[2020-09-01 16:15:03] U.S. manufacturing activity at 19-month high in August
[2020-09-01 15:55:03] Canadian factory sector growth jumps to two-year high in August
[2020-09-01 12:15:03] CEE manufacturing recovery marches on but signs of slowing
[2020-09-01 11:00:05] UK mortgage approvals jump as housing market bounces back
[2020-09-01 10:45:03] UK factories see big upturn in August, but from low ebb: PMI
[2020-09-01 10:40:02] Germany revises upward 2020 GDP forecast, sees weaker rebound in...
[2020-09-01 10:25:02] Euro zone factory output stayed strong in August: PMI
[2020-09-01 10:20:03] German manufacturing recovery remains on track in August: PMI
[2020-09-01 10:05:02] Spanish prime minister moderately optimistic about economic...
[2020-09-01 07:25:06] Chinese Factory Activity Bolstered Over 2020’s First New Export...
[2020-09-01 01:10:30] South Korea revised second-quarter GDP down 3.2%, ticks up from advanced estimates
[2020-08-31 07:25:25] Number of German companies with short-time work declines in...
[2020-08-31 02:10:22] Japan July industrial output rises 8.0% month-on-month
[2020-08-28 17:55:11] China revises list of technologies banned, restricted for export
[2020-08-28 14:50:11] U.S. consumer spending beats expectations in July
[2020-08-28 14:45:11] Exclusive: Germany seen revising upward its 2020 GDP forecast,...
[2020-08-28 13:30:11] Banks eye layoffs as short-term crisis ends, long-term costs emerge
[2020-08-28 11:10:20] Euro zone sentiment recovers for fourth straight month in August
[2020-08-28 09:15:10] French savings surged, profits plunge in record second-quarter...
[2020-08-28 01:15:11] UK business confidence rises from lows, job cuts on the way:...
[2020-08-27 20:25:07] U.S. Labor Department changes jobless claims data methodology...