Nov. 21, 2022

Only Four States Show Higher Workforce Participation than Before COVID-19

Only four states – Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota, and Illinois – have a higher percentage of their labor force working than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Of the remaining states, the vast majority have a smaller percentage of people working than before February 2020, with only California, Oklahoma and Florida at roughly the same participation as pre-pandemic. Overall, the national labor force participation rate is about 1 percentage point less than pre-pandemic levels, equating to about 3 million people leaving the workforce over the past three years.

To better understand those numbers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released the Worker Shortage Index, a ratio that indicates the number of available workers for every job opening. The index breaks down by state, and states with a higher ratio have more workers available to fill open jobs. A ratio above 1.0 indicates a surplus of available workers in the index. The full index is available here.