A steady stream of consumer demand, coupled with a drop in the number of coronavirus cases and health constraints, led to a job creation eruption last month, showing the sustained strength of the economic recovery.
U.S. employers added 431,000 jobs in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor said Friday. The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, from 3.8 percent a month earlier and just a touch higher than its levels just before the pandemic.
“It’s all about the virus, the virus, the virus – and virus control in the American psyche seems to have been released,” said Austan Goolsbee, a professor at the University of Chicago and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack. Obama. “And we can move on to the idea that the ‘Covid era’ of the American economy is over.”
The economy has recovered more than 90 percent of the 22 million jobs lost at the peak of the pandemic blockade in the spring of 2020 – a much faster recovery than forecasters initially expected.
Demand for workers is giving rise to strong wage growth, but rising prices are casting a grim shadow. Inflation, the highest in decades, is being complicated by international events: the Russian invasion of Ukraine is pushing up commodity prices and the Covid-19 blasts in major shopping malls in Asia are a new burden on supply chains.
Following the publication of the report, President Biden highlighted job gains under his administration. “Our policies are working,” he said, citing “record job creation, record unemployment, record wage increases.” While underlining the sustainability of the recovery, he added: “This work is not over. “We have to do more to get prices under control.”
Wages rose 5.6 percent over the past year, the report showed, following annual increases of 2 to 3 percent for most of 2010. This could boost prices at a time when the Federal Reserve is trying to calm them down.
“By many measures, the labor market is extremely narrow, significantly narrower than the very strong labor market just before the pandemic,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chairman, said in a recent speech. Mr Powell also called the current job market “unhealthy”, with 1.8 jobs per unemployed worker.
Job openings and the number of workers leaving voluntarily leave their positions remain close to record levels – measures that show the demand for workers is the highest in decades – and many employers have complained about the lack of job candidates. A few months ago, some economists expressed concern that the pandemic could have pushed many workers, especially those at or near retirement age, aside forever.
But with more than 400,000 people joining the workforce in March, the percentage of adults working or actively looking for work rose to 62.4 percent, just one percentage point below the pandemic threshold. Among people in their main years of work, those aged 25 to 54, returns have been even stronger.
Overall, recent data suggest that many workers who were kept out of the workforce have returned as pandemic-related factors are alleviated. March represented the first full month since the Covid-19 Omicron wave faded in most of the country and produced job growth in most major industries.
Leisure and hospitality topped the road, accounting for approximately a quarter of total profits. These data fueled hope in the services sector that good times could return and stay more stable.
After nearly two years of reopening – optimistic growth of personal activity as the virus faded, followed by frightening obstacles as it rose again – there seems to be a renewed comfort with personal activity. Travel, live entertainment, indoor dining, museums and historic sites, bars and other beverage locations all had huge job growth.
“There is still more work to be done,” Michelle Meyer, chief US economist, told the Mastercard Institute of Economics. Leisure employment and hospitality is still declining by 1.5 million from pre-pandemic levels. But the March data, she said, “speak to the fact that there is still much room for expansion in terms of labor market growth in that industry, given what we are seeing in the consumer interest to be to return and to engage ”.
Lobby, a restaurant centered around breakfast in a tall but comfortable late 19th-century building in downtown Denver, almost went out of business in 2020 before being largely saved by federal emergency aid for small companies. Now, on any given weekend, it offers the sights, aromas, and sounds of an economic revival that begins to take its toll: a house filled with dinners chatting away, leaning on each other’s ears in an unimaginable way 18 months ago.
The restaurant co-owner, Christian Batizy, is in a good mood for his business and the local economy in general. “We are probably currently 25 percent over our best year,” said Mr. Batizy, who opened the spot in 2009.
“Those of us who survived the pandemic have emerged in an economy where people are a little more willing to spend money,” he said, adding: “The gap between restaurant prices and home cooking is closing with grocery store prices. rising so high. ” The cost of food at home rose faster last year than the cost of eating out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Consumer prices, which rose 7.9 percent in the 12 months to February, the biggest increase since 1982, have been deeply politicized. Republicans blame Mr. Biden for rising prices, a message that is expected to heat up as the midterm elections approach.
“Wages simply can not keep up with President Biden’s frantic inflation, which is accelerating,” said Kevin Brady of Texas, the Republican top member of the House Appropriations Committee, in a statement Friday. “Americans need to prepare for even higher prices up front.”
Frustration with inflation, despite the many jobs, reduces backgrounds, income levels and worldviews. Most of the hiring in the coming months “will be for lower-paid service workers,” said Robert Frick, an economist at the Federal Navy Credit Union. “Unfortunately, these workers are more vulnerable to high inflation, especially for needs like gas and food.”
David Green, president of Local 721 of the International Union of Service Workers – which represents about 98,000 public sector employees, approximately 55,000 of whom are Los Angeles County employees – said he was feeling financially burned: “I filled my tank of gas today. and was over $ 100. “Our wages and benefits are not in line with inflation.”
Mr Green, a veteran child social worker for the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services, said he and many of his colleagues were outraged by “being front-line workers seeing the giant corporations of succeed more and earn millions and billions of dollars “, while many of them” can not afford the gas to go to work. “
This dissatisfaction has made county workers, who have not received a cost-of-living adjustment in three years, become more confident in seeking raise. The county has offered a three year salary increase of 2 per cent in the current contract negotiations. If inflation were just below 2 percent, as it was before the pandemic, perhaps supply would have been better accepted. But workers have given up and are threatening to strike.
Ben Casselman AND Jeanna Smialek contributed to reporting.