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Yellen says the labor force participation is "quite depressed" compared to pre-pandemic levels

Treasury Secretary Yellen says labor force woes due to COVID concerns
Treasury Secretary Yellen says labor force woes due to COVID concerns 02:24

The uneven job recovery — namely a shortage of workers — is a direct result of the pandemic, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan in an exclusive interview Friday. 

"When we really get control of the pandemic, I think labor supply will go back to normal," Yellen predicted. 

Yellen pointed to several reasons for an "abnormally low" supply of labor — including a shortage of childcare workers and educators, which "creates childcare problems." 

"That also tends to suppress labor supply," Yellen said. 

The U.S. economy has had more than 10 million open jobs since June, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. More than six million Americans who lost their jobs in April 2020 still have not returned to the labor force.  

Yellen, who is a labor economist, is dealing with other problems as the administration battles rising inflation and supply chain snarls. The administration argues the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package — which the House passed last week — will slow rapid price increases but not all economists agree.

President Biden is expected to sign the infrastructure bill on Monday. There are concerns about what it will do to inflation. 

"It will create millions of new jobs, it'll grow the economy and we'll win the world economic competition that we're engaged in," Mr. Biden said before his cabinet meeting Friday. 

But, with the Build Back Better plan, which is still being negotiated in Congress, the administration thinks it is a solution to broader labor issues.

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