The opioid epidemic has caused the U.S. workforce to decline by 16 million, or 20 percent, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, CNBC reports.
Powell, testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, said that the crisis is "a terrible human tragedy," and that "from an economic standpoint, some high percentage of prime-age people who are not in the labor force, particularly prime-age males who are not in the labor force, are taking painkillers of some kind."
He also noted that economist Alan Krueger found in a survey that 44 percent of men have used a form of pain medication on the previous day.
"It's a big number," Powell said. "It's having a terrible human toll on our communities and also it matters a lot for the labor force participation rate and economic activity in our country."
Between June 2008 and June 2018, the labor force participation rate has dropped from 66.1 percent to 62.9 percent, and the number of people not in the labor force rose from 79.3 million to 95.5 million.
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