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Millions of Workers Retired During COVID

Experts say the economy needs them to 'un-retire'

An economist will tell you it's a hot labor market: A record number of people quit their jobs in September, and the U.S. is seeing record job openings as the economy chugs back to life from the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic drove millions of workers into early retirement — and experts say they could be key to reviving the economy.

The number of people who retired rose much faster than the typical pace during the pandemic. More than 3 million additional people retired compared with normal, a Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis analysis found. Meanwhile, the economy is still down nearly 4 million jobs from before COVID-19.

"Forty percent of the older workers that were pushed out of the labor market because they were unemployed, they were laid off, they were fired during the pandemic, 40 percent of them were permanent job losers and most of them said, 'Okay, I'm not just a discouraged worker, I'm not a long-term unemployed, I'm going to tell the [Labor Department] survey, I'm retired'," said Teresa Ghilarducci, labor economist and professor at The New School.

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