The Effect of COVID on Expected and Actual Labor Supply and Social Security Claiming Among Older Workers

Published: 2022
Project ID: UM22-07


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the working conditions of many U.S. workers. Some lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently, others switched to telework, while essential workers continued working on-site at the risk of becoming infected with the virus. The pandemic was especially harmful for the older population, because of their elevated mortality rates and because it is more difficult for older workers to find new jobs after layoffs. The objective of this project is to estimate the effects of the COVID-19 recession on the present and future labor supply of the older population, particularly those ages 51 to 69. To do so, we will track unemployment and actual and expected employment, as well as Social Security claiming, in detailed population groups from 2018 to 2020 using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We will pay particular attention to inequalities by education, income, and occupations. We will compare these outcomes to those observed in the Great Recession of 2008 to 2009