Employers in the United States added a robust 379,000 jobs last month, the most since October and a sign that the US economy is strengthening as confirmed viral cases drop, consumers spend more, and states and cities ease business restrictions.
The February gain marked a sharp pickup from the 166,000 jobs that were added in January and the loss of 306,000 in December. Yet it represents just a fraction of the roughly 9.6 million jobs that the economy needs to regain to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The pickup in hiring lowered the unemployment rate from 6.3 percent to 6.2 percent, the Labor Department said Friday in its monthly jobs report. That is down dramatically from the 14.8-percent jobless rate of April of last year, just after the virus erupted in the United States. But it’s well above the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.
Stock prices surged on the news of solid job growth, a day after Wall Street suffered deep losses on fears that inflation and interest rates could soon be headed higher.One year after the pandemic triggered a violent recession, economists are increasingly optimistic that hiring will accelerate in the coming months as Americans seize the opportunity to once again travel, shop, attend sporting events and visit movie theaters and restaurants. Households as a whole have accumulated a huge pile of savings after having slashed spending on those services. Much of that money is expected to be spent once most people feel comfortable about going out. SOVEREIGNPH