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UK Economy - Why are so many people leaving the workforce

Graham Watson

5th December 2022

Richard Partington writing in the Guardian looks at the current macroeconomic concern with the size of the UK labour force. Since the pandemic, the workforce has declined by 600,000 - students, early retirees, carers and the long-term sick.

This poses a number of problems for the UK economy: it necessarily limits growth and makes control of inflation tricky. This prompts some questions: why are people seemingly leaving the labour market at a time when it would seem that they should be staying in work to protect their real incomes? And how can the government entice people back to work?

I suspect that there aren't any easy solutions

The article highlights Grimsby, suggesting that declining public health is playing a significant role in explaining the increase in the economically inactive, with many people of working age simply no longer able to work because of health issues.

Richard Partington looks at this - and suggests that austerity in the aftermath of the global financial crisis has played a significant part in driving this rise in the shrinking labour force.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to tutor2u, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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