Saturday, June 09, 2018

Use of opioid drugs ‘appears to be connected’ to labor market conditions

See Why U.S. Prime-Age Workforce Participation Is Lagging Behind Other Nations by Sarah Chaney of The WSJ.

This is related to yesterday's post ("American Job Openings Now Outnumber the Jobless") which mentioned "the share of Americans who are working or seeking work has generally declined for almost two decades."

Chaney's article suggests that opioid use has played a part. Excerpts:
"The share of U.S. prime-age workers holding or seeking jobs has picked up in recent years but remains well below the rates of other developed economies, a phenomenon suspected to be linked to the opioid crisis.

The so-called labor-force participation rate of such workers, ages 25 to 54, fell sharply after the financial crisis to a recent low of 80.7% in the third quarter of 2015, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released Wednesday.

The figure has increased since then to 81.7% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The OECD’s 35 countries—which include the U.S., most of the European Union members, Canada and FranceJapan—had a combined rate of 85.5% in the last three months of 2017."

"The use of opioid drugs “appears to be connected” to labor market conditions, the report said.
Opioid prescription rates are generally higher where overall labor-force participation rates are lower, it notes.

These areas also tend to be places where disability rates are high, it says, pointing to a possible connection between drug use and disability.

The prescription of opioids per capita is “significantly higher” in the U.S. than in other OECD nations, the report notes."

"“In addition, when addiction leads to criminality, the consequences of a felony record can drastically reduce employment possibilities.”"

"Princeton University economist Alan Krueger found that a national increase in opioid painkiller prescriptions between 1999 and 2015 may have accounted for about 20% of the decline in workforce participation among men ages 25 to 54, and roughly 25% of the drop in prime-age female workforce participation."

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