From the Summary "Despair in our society is a barrier to reviving our labor markets and productivity, jeopardizes our well-being, health, and longevity, and affects our politics. Despair was increasing among Americans well before COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019]; the virus was an exponential shock. Before the virus, the U.S. boasted robust stock-markets and record low levels of unemployment, yet 20% of prime-aged males were out of the labor force. From 2005 to 2019, an average of 70,000 Americans died annually from deaths of despair (suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol poisoning). These deaths are concentrated among less than college educated middle-aged whites, with the those out of the labor force disproportionately represented. Low-income minorities are significantly more optimistic than whites and much less likely to die of these deaths. [...] This brief argues that the Biden administration ought to form a new federal interagency task force to address addiction 'and' despair as a critical first step. This task force would monitor trends and coordinate federal efforts. Otherwise the large cohort of workers that have simply dropped out of the labor force and have lost hope of having a purposeful existence will continue to suffer 'and' remain a barrier to a full economic recovery."