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Market Extra: How the opioid epidemic is exacerbating a U.S. labor-market shortage

The number of people working or looking for work in the U.S. is near a four-decade low, and some experts believe that the opioid epidemic has played a key role in keeping a lid on participation.

According to Jeff Korzenik, chief investment adviser at Fifth Third Bank, the abuse of painkillers that has gripped the nation could be at the heart of a weaker reading of labor-force participation at 62.7%, near its 40-year lows. The rate has hovered around this level for the past five years even as the unemployment rate steadily declined over this period to below 4% from 7% in 2013.

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