Key Highlights

  • February’s hiring pace sees unexpectedly large improvement over January numbers
  • Strongest showing since October 2020

February Employment Report Shows Much Improved Job Gains

The American economy added 379,000 jobs in February.  As unexpected as these job gains were after January’s dismal showing, most of these job gains came even more unexpectedly in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality industries.

Still, 9.5 Million Fewer Jobs Currently than One-Year Ago at Pandemic Onset

February’s job gains must be put into a context, however.  There are still 9,5M fewer jobs today than there were one year ago.  Plus, first-time jobs claims for first-time unemployment insurance benefits increased during the last week of February over the prior week

The advance figure for initial unemployment claims hit 745,000 during the week ending February 27, an increase of nearly 10,000 from the week prior. States also reported nearly 437,000 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,the federal program for self employed workers and consultants.  Added together, initial claims for unemployment hit nearly 1M.

Remember too that more than 4M people quit the labor force altogether during this last year.  These 4M people are not included in the official jobless equation.

Economy Remains a Pandemic Economy

According to Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives and former Federal Reserve economist, said, “We’re still in a pandemic economy. Millions of people are looking for work and willing to work, but they are constrained from working.

Job Recruiting Sites Seeing Increase in Job Postings

Recruiting sites such as Indeed are seeing a steady increase in the number of job postings.  Tom Gimbel, chief executive of Chicago-based LaSalle Network, said, “…(employers) are ready to hire.”

Cautious Optimism about Gradually Improving Economy

The ever-cautious Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said last week, “There’s reason to think that we’ll begin to make more progress soon. But even if that happens, as now seems likely, it will take some time to achieve ‘substantial’ further progress.”

Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco’s Bank of the West, said, “The labor market is continuing to gradually improve.  Job growth will accelerate, perhaps as soon as the second quarter…”  Anderson pointed to job gains specifically in leisure and hospitality and travel sectors.

Thanks to Department of Labor, Bloomberg  and The New York Times.



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