On The Money — Long COVID hits the labor market

·4 min read

We’ll dig into how long COVID intersects with the worker shortage. We’ll also look at President Biden’s semiconductor plan, school teacher strikes and the Labor Day air travel rebound.

But first, see why annual boosters might be on the way.

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Subscribe here.

How long COVID is impacting the US labor shortage

Persistent COVID-19 symptoms could be keeping millions of Americans out of the workforce.

Economists and policymakers have struggled to figure out why a much lower percentage of working-age adults are in the labor force than before the pandemic.

  • The number of Americans either employed or looking for work eclipsed its pre-pandemic level in August, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

  • But the labor force participation rate remains 1 percentage point below its February 2020 level, a gap roughly equivalent to 1.6 million people.

A smaller labor force hasn’t kept the U.S. from adding jobs at a rapid rate since mid-2020. Even so, thousands — if not millions — of Americans could be on the sidelines of the rapid recovery because they’re still too sick from prolonged COVID-19 symptoms to work.

“We don’t know what proportion of people are having very debilitating symptoms with a lot of certainty,” said Julia Raifman, an assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

“But we know that it is happening to some people and we know that each infection seems to increase the chances of it happening,” she continued.

Sylvan has more here.

CHIPS ON THE TABLE

Biden administration unveils plan for bolstering semiconductor production

The Biden administration on Monday unveiled its plan for bolstering domestic chip production in the U.S. by using the $50 billion in funding from the CHIPS and Science Act passed this summer.

  • The administration will use the majority of the funding, around $28 billion, to establish domestic production of leading edge logic and memory chips through grants, subsidized loans or loan guarantees, the Department of Commerce said in an announcement.

  • The administration will use around $10 billion to increase production of current-generation semiconductors and chips. An additional $11 billion will be invested in research and development.

The Hill’s Rebecca Klar has the latest.

SCHOOL’S OUT

Seattle teachers union authorizes strike, potentially delaying school year start

Unionized educators at Seattle Public Schools (SPS) on Tuesday voted to authorize a strike, which threatens to delay the start of the school year on Wednesday if a contract agreement is not reached.

The Seattle Education Association (SEA) announced on Tuesday afternoon that 95 percent of voters authorized the strike, with three-quarters of its roughly 6,000 members participating.

Union leaders said they are continuing to bargain with the school district throughout the day, but they may begin picketing on Wednesday morning if no agreement is reached.

The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld breaks it down.

FLIGHT FRENZY

Labor Day marked first holiday weekend to exceed pre-pandemic air travel levels, TSA says

Nearly 9 million people passed through the nation’s airports during the Labor Day weekend, the first holiday weekend to surpass pre-pandemic air travel levels, according to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data.

The agency announced on Tuesday that it screened 8.76 million passengers between Friday and Monday, which was 102 percent of the Labor Day weekend passenger volume in 2019.

“TSA’s highly trained and dedicated workforce facilitated secure travel for millions of passengers during the busy summer travel season with very little disruptions at the checkpoint,” TSA acting Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

“We were also able to continue the deployment of new technologies that facilitate stronger identity verification procedures and enhanced security screening for carry-on bags.”

Here’s more from Zach.

Good to Know

Now that the term “quiet quitting” has buzzed around the Internet, a new phrase — “quiet firing” — is shifting the focus around workplace culture on to how employers treat their staff.

It’s not an unusual tactic, as more than 80 percent of respondents say they have either seen or experienced quiet firing, according to a recent LinkedIn News poll.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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