The US Federal Reserve building in Washington DC (Image: Wikimedia/Jbarta)

Buried in the mass of words released after the US Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday, was a brief comment from chair Jay Powell which points to the real long-term damage to the country's labour force and economy.

When asked at a post-meeting conference about the number of Americans who won’t be able to return to their old jobs, Powell said, “Well, into the millions."

That means many workers who have lost their jobs in the COVID-19 lockdowns (over 44 million) won’t be able to return to the positions they held in February. It means many will have to start over again, take a lower-paid position or become permanently unemployed if they are too old.