A man walks past a “Now Hiring” sign outside a store on December 1, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. Despite the recent growth in employment, millions of Americans are still unemployed. Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption
Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images
Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images
The hiring took off in February as a winter wave of coronavirus infections subsided and consumers were spending more freely.
U.S. employers created 379,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%.
“Recovery has finally emerged from hibernation,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo. She noted that new cases of COVID-19 have fallen sharply since January. And Congress seems ready to pump more money into the economy if President Biden does $ 1.9 trillion bailout package wins approval.
286,000 jobs were created in bars and restaurants last month as COVID restrictions were gradually eased. Retailers have created 41,000 jobs. These gains were partially offset by job losses from construction companies and state and local government agencies.
Employment gains in February were significantly higher than the 166,000 revised jobs added the previous month, but still painfully slow for millions of Americans who remain unemployed. There are still 9.5 million fewer people on the company’s payroll than before the pandemic.
“We have some green shoots of recreation protruding from the snow, but there is still a long way to go before the forest grows back,” said Daniel Zhao, chief economist on the Glassdoor job search website.
While the unemployment rate has fallen significantly from its high of near 15% last summer, that doesn’t explain the people who have stopped looking for work altogether.
“We have seen the sharpest decline in labor force participation in many decades,” said Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, on Thursday at a forum sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. “It just means that there are some people who are technically unemployed but were working in February [of last year]. Some of them will have retired, but the majority of them actually want to go back to work. ”
Powell said the United States was “highly unlikely” to return to full employment this year, but said he was “hopeful that we can make good progress”.
Congress forecasters have said it could be 2024 before the country regains all of the jobs that were lost during the pandemic.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen believes the president’s economic bailout may accelerate that schedule. It would provide US $ 1,400 aid to most Americans, along with expanded unemployment benefits and aid to city and state governments.
“If we look at the state of consumers, they already have some money to spend,” said House, the Wells Fargo economist. “They are eager to get out of there. And given that this should be a lot safer, we should see the economy really shift into higher gear over the next few months.”
Some economists have warned of inflation as consumers seek to make up for lost time by spending their accumulated savings and new aid payments faster than companies can keep up.
Concerns about inflation have rocked the equity and bond markets in recent days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 345 points, or 1.1%, on Thursday. Still, the Federal Reserve and many analysts believe that price spikes this year will likely be temporary and manageable.
“We think inflation will run faster than it has been in years,” said House, Wells Fargo’s economist. “But you have to remember that inflation has been historically low.”
While the pandemic killed more than 518,000 Americansthe public health situation is improving.
“Right now we’re seeing 30 vaccinations for every case of COVID,” House said. “With more vaccinations going on and people not having to choose between their health or their job, many people will likely be back in work.”
That would be welcome news for employers like Courtney Silver, who is grappling with pandemic absences at the Concord, NC precision machine shop
“It’s just hard,” said Silver. “You have your production schedule planned for the next eight weeks and you know what you’re going to do. On a Friday evening, Saturday or Sunday you get a call: ‘Hey, my wife has COVID and I’m going to be out for two weeks.’ It affects you Production on a large scale. “