omicron did not "slam labor markets." covid policy did. and it was entirely avoidable.

CNBC would appear to wish to have us believe that the drop in jobs was caused by “the variant” as though this was some act of nature instead of an act of government.

it is not. this is a deeply misleading framing intended to obscure causality rather than reveal it.

it’s way past they point where even these people could possibly be this ignorant of baseline reality.

this is, instead, a clear bet that you are.

this drop in jobs was not “unexpected” at least not by anyone paying attention. this is the direct, proximate effect of imposing vaccine mandates as a precondition to work. the OSHA mandate fell, but the federal mandate for contractors did not. thousands of mandates for health care workers imposed by states and hospital systems did not. requirements for many truckers and teachers and hospitality workers did not. many employers went ahead and imposed these anyway. they waited until after the holidays, but here we are.

we also cut off the flow of travel and of patronage. we closed businesses (again). we limited capacity. we mandated vaccination as a pre-requisite for going out to eat or staying in hotels. and like clockwork, it choked off the flow of tourists and local patrons alike because people HATE this and hate playing officious games and pretending that the made up “covid physics” of “wear your mask to the table then take it off when you sit” make any sense at all. they hate having some hostess demand “their papers.” maybe not everyone does, but enough people do that it has savaged businesses.

we’re living though needless damage to no useful effect at.

this is NOT the virus.

it’s the predictable and unavoidable output of deeply stupid public health policy.

the damage since this began has been acute and severe. “2 weeks to flatten the curve” was, as many of us were screaming right from the beginning, the commencement of the nastiest economic hit to jobs and small business per unit time in US history and probably in global history.

in the US, we dropped 20 million jobs in 2 months. that is so far outside any precedent it’s staggering.

the entire 2008 recession and financial crisis led to a job reduction of 8 million over 24 months…

and we have NOT recovered to previous levels. current job levels are about the same as jan 2018.

they are 4 million jobs below the level from early 2020.

they are 9 million below where we would be had job growth continued as before. (added in red)

might job growth have slowed anyway? yes, perhaps, but this gives us a set of fairly reasonable bookends to assess the scope of what this has cost in terms of private nonfarm employment.

we’re 4-9 million jobs short of where we would likely have been without this public health response and claims that the US jobs market looks strong are pretty iffy.

(keep in mind that the unemployment rate drops when people drop out of the labor force/stop looking for work. it does not mean they found jobs.)

“but it was the virus! most of this would have happened anyway!”

this is a predictable claim, but seems out of step with reality. fortunately, we have a control group.

compare this damage to a place like sweden who did not lock down and freak out.

sweden’s payrolls figure is much more seasonally variable than the US, but looking through this seeming cardiac rhythm the overall difference in outcome is unavoidably obvious.

the dip was extremely minor in comparison. it was extremely short in comparison. and, despite the effects of many neighbors locking down, tourism and travel dropping, and global supply chain issues, their jobs figures currently look indistinguishable from 2019 and pre pandemic 2020.

employment today is higher than dec 2019 or jan 2020.

the US is nowhere close.

it’s really very simple: places that locked down harder got no better outcomes on covid. but they got much, much worse outcomes on economic and societal damage.

this was all known and knowable.

the base prior for pandemics was to never, never do this.

it’s what the guidelines said.

i did a ton of work on this back in the twitter days. it was obvious right from the start that drops in google mobility data (measuring actual human behavior from cell phone tracking) had zero effect on bending any epidemiological curve. it was clearly doing nothing at all. this was already glaring. and so was the harm.

i pulled this data from BLS way back in 2020:

it was more than a little apparent that it was predominantly politics and policy, not covid putting people out of work.

the no lockdown states were back at baseline by the fall.

the relationship was not subtle:

at this stage of the game and with this much clear data at one’s disposal, it’s pretty absurd to still be trying to blame upon a virus that which’s fault lies with public health response.

to do so is neither economically or epidemiologically accurate.

these are choices, not happenstance.

and it’s long past time to be making different ones.