By Evan Sully
(Reuters) – Fewer Americans are citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason they are not looking for work, as more people get vaccinated and unemployment steadily declines.
The Labor Department reported on Friday that 2.5 million people did not look for work in May due to COVID-19, up from 2.85 million the month before and 9.7 million the year before. That represents about 2.5% of the roughly 100 million working-age Americans who were not in the workforce in May compared to 9.5% of those who were not working or looking for work a year ago.
“With more … of the US adult population now fully vaccinated and the daily case count steadily declining, we believe that COVID-related barriers have continued to decline and have prompted some workers to return to the workforce in May, “said Shannon Seery, an economist at Wells fargo (NYSE :).
Nearly 52% of the US population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Reuters tally, while nearly 42% have been fully vaccinated.
The figures on those not looking for work due to COVID were in line with the government’s monthly employment report, which showed that nonfarm payrolls increased by 559,000 jobs in May after increasing by 278,000 in April.
In May 2020, the Department of Labor began asking households an additional set of questions about how COVID was affecting their ability to work, and last month’s data showed a fourth consecutive monthly decline in those blaming the pandemic for keeping them. outside the labor market.
“An improved health situation would make COVID a less important factor in people’s decision not to look for work,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, senior economist at Oxford Economics.
In addition, the report showed that only 25.2 million Americans telecommuted or worked from home in May as a result of COVID, representing 16.6% of the nearly 152 million people who worked last month. That’s about half of the 48.7 million people who worked remotely last May, and then more than a third of all employees.
More employers have started calling for workers to return to offices, and waves of businesses that need on-site staff, such as restaurants, have reopened in recent weeks as pandemic restrictions have eased.
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