Jul 18, 2018

By the numbers: Opioid addiction hurts a key economic indicator

Housing stands in an area of the South Bronx experiencing an epidemic in drug use, especially heroin and other opioid based drugs. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The opioid crisis tearing through communities across America has kept working-age men and women out of the labor force at a rate that is hurting the national economy, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Why it matters: Labor force participation is used to calculate the unemployment rate released by the federal government each month, with people not considered to be in the workforce — including those incapacitated by addiction — left out of the overall percentage. Per CNBC, this could present "a potentially skewed picture of the employment situation."

By the numbers: Appearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, Chairman Powell cited a 2017 study by Princeton economist Alan Krueger, which suggested the increase in opioid prescriptions from 1999 to 2015 could partially account for the observable decline in labor participation during that same period.

  • Between early 2000 and 2015, the LFP rate dropped from 67.3% to a 40-year low of 62.4%.
  • 40% of prime age men (25 to 54 years old) not in the labor force report taking pain medication on a daily basis. Two-thirds of that group report taking prescription pain medication on a daily basis.
  • Krueger attributes about half of the decline in LFP to shifting demographics, meaning the population of working age Americans is simply getting older.
  • But his analysis also suggests that the increase in opioid prescriptions could account for 20% of the observed decline in LFP for men and 25% for women.

The bottom line: In the last 15 years, the LFP rate fell more in counties where more opioids were prescribed.

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Bloomberg denies telling a pregnant employee to "kill it"

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the debate stage Tuesday denied telling a former employee to terminate her pregnancy.

Catch up quick: Per the Washington Post, a former saleswoman has alleged workplace discrimination against Bloomberg and his company and says Bloomberg told her to "kill it" when he learned she was pregnant. Bloomberg denied the allegation under oath and entered a confidential settlement with the woman.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They're talking about health care, Russian interference in the election, the economy and race.

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Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for reelection. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected.