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Where Are All the Workers?

Many started their own businesses; many died

America has a labor market mismatch, with workers quitting at record rates and far more open jobs than the number of unemployed people. But one reason for the job crunch likely comes down to old-fashioned entrepreneurship, a new analysis suggests. 

Through September, Americans have filed a record 1.4 million applications to start new businesses, according to an analysis of Census data by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). And most of these startups are in fields like manufacturing or retail that are likely to create jobs, versus freelancers, who typically operate independently, the think tank concludes.

The surge in new businesses is a positive sign for the economy despite contributing to an already constrained labor market, said Kenan Fikri, director of research at EIG. These entrepreneurs are targeting opportunities created by the pandemic, such as "ghost kitchens" that prepare meals for takeout or delivery only. In doing so, however, they are adding to the shortage of available workers.

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