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Expand chart
Reproduced from Miguel Faria e Castro and the Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic pushed more than 3 million baby boomers into premature retirement, according to a new analysis from Miguel Faria e Castro, a senior economist at the St. Louis Fed.

Why it matters: The wave of early retirements is contributing to the labor shortage that's roiling the U.S. economy.

What's happening: Many older workers faced layoffs, and others left the workforce to protect themselves from the risk of infection.

  • It's much harder for workers in their 50s and 60s — or older — to re-enter the workforce after a period of unemployment, due to persistent ageism in corporate America.
  • So it's likely that many of those who left jobs got discouraged and chose to retire instead.

Older workers also may have built up a financial cushion during the pandemic and chosen to retire, Faria e Castro notes.

  • "The COVID-19 recession was abnormal in the sense that it featured a sharp downturn in real economic activity but also rising asset values, such as for housing and stocks," he writes. That may have made early retirement possible for many.

The big picture: The early retirement wave isn't the only trend chipping away at labor force participation. The total number of people who left the workforce during the pandemic — including the 3 million early retirees — is around 5.25 million, per Faria e Castro's analysis.

  • That includes working mothers who left jobs to care for kids and immunocompromised people who stayed home from work for their health.

What to watch: That 5.25 million number could shrink significantly as pandemic-era factors keeping people out of work go away. Some early retirees could also come back to the workforce.

Go deeper

Food and hospitality industries still recovering from pandemic shock

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Rising pay isn't bringing in enough restaurant workers, adding to the strain on current employees.

A survey of 4,700+ former, current and aspiring restaurant workers found many employees aren't leaving the workforce — just restaurants.

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.