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article imageU.S. labor force dropping out and getting high

By Karen Graham     Jul 17, 2017 in Health
The Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen dropped a bomb shell on Thursday, saying the opioid crisis in the U.S. is weighing on labor force participation, especially among working-age men.
Yellen's remarks came about while she was testifying before the Senate Banking Committee. In response to a question asked by Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, on whether the decline in prime-age men in the work force was the "new normal?"
Yellen noted that there has been a steady decline in prime-age men's participation in the work force for decades, and that's reflected all “variety of adverse trends related particularly to technological change that has eliminated many middle-income jobs.
And as she pointed out, there has been a serious problem in today's more technology-oriented world in getting people who are qualified to fill many jobs. She cited low levels of education and a mismatch of job skills as some of the reasons many Americans have had trouble in rejoining the job market.
However, Yellen also pointed to the opioid crisis, the main contributor to the sharp increase in deaths of Americans since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With opioid addiction skyrocketing by over 500 percent in the last seven years, the CDC says that nearly 100 people die every day from drug overdoses, more than those who die from guns and car accidents.
Image of James Acord and Rhonda Paskek passed out from drug overdose in car while Paskek s four-year...
Image of James Acord and Rhonda Paskek passed out from drug overdose in car while Paskek's four-year-old grandson looks on
East Liverpool Police Department
The problem was brought home last month in Georgia. At the second meeting of the state's new House Rural Development Council, which met in Toccoa. ASI Southeast, the biggest employer in Stephens County, employs about 400 people said Barry Roberts, director of operations for ASI.
He told the legislators, “We want to stay here. We want to thrive here. But we do feel like there are some obstacles in the way right now.” The drug-use problem with ASI employees manifests itself with failed drug tests and Roberts told the lawmakers it was one issue that “needs to be on your radar."
Interestingly, a Goldman Sachs report issued last week noted that the opioid crisis was initially fueled by the misuse of prescription opioids, but the spike in overdose deaths in the last five years has come from “heroin and illicit fentanyl users, most of whom previously used prescription opioids but switched to these cheaper, more accessible drugs”.
“The opioid epidemic is intertwined with the story of declining prime-age participation, especially for men, and this reinforces our doubts about a rebound in the participation rate,” David Mericle, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said. The report adds that the remaining unemployed should not be written off because there has been no change in their rate of drug use.
So, while the opioid crisis is being tied into the declining work force in the U.S., any remedy, in the way of funding from the federal government is tied to the Republican Health Care Bill, and the current bill is in limbo as Senator John McCain recuperates from surgery for a blood clot behind an eye. The bill earmarks $45 billion to combat opioid and other substance abuse.
More about labor force, Unemployment, opioid crisis, United States, Federal reserve
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