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Pandemic Labor Force Participation and Net Worth Fluctuations

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  • Miguel Faria-e-Castro
  • Samuel Jordan-Wood

Abstract

The US labor force participation rate (LFPR) experienced a record drop during the early pandemic. While it has since recovered to 62.2 percent as of December 2022, it was still 1.41 percentage points below its pre-pandemic peak. This gap is explained mostly by a permanent decline in the LFPR for workers older than 55. This article argues that wealth effects driven by the historically high returns in major asset classes such as stocks and housing may have influenced these trends. Combining an estimated model of wealth effects on labor supply with micro data on balance sheet composition, we show that changes in net worth caused by realized returns explain half of the drop in LFPR in the 2020-21 period and over 80 percent of "excess retirements'' during the same period.

Suggested Citation

  • Miguel Faria-e-Castro & Samuel Jordan-Wood, 2024. "Pandemic Labor Force Participation and Net Worth Fluctuations," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 106(1), pages 40-58, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:96545
    DOI: 10.20955/r.106.40-58
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor force participation; COVID-19; net worth; retirement;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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