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Employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a recovery of 687,000 jobs during the month of February, exceeding The Wall Street Journal‘s survey of economists’ projections by 243,000 jobs.
With the rebound in job creation, the unemployment rate stood at 3.8%. Employers, in order to encourage hiring, have been increasing their workers’ wages. For the month of February, the hourly rate for the average worker increased by $0.10, bringing the hourly rate to $34.7.
The jobs recovery during January and February appears to have been largely unaffected by the expansion of the Omicron variant, whose number of infections is on the decline.
The number of jobs continues to be 2.1 million below February 2020 levels, however, if the jobs recovery continues, the gap could be narrowed within two months.
In February, 6.3 million people declared themselves unemployed; before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was around 3.5% and among Hispanics, it decreased to 4.4%. In the latter segment, the rate returned to pre-pandemic levels. Among African-American workers, it stood at 6.6%.
Unemployment among women stood at 3.6%, among teenagers at 10.3%, among non-Hispanic whites at 3.3%, and among Asians at 3.1%.
Early retirement and falling immigration continue to dent employment numbers
Despite the sharp increase in job creation during February, employers still need more people and those ready to fill certain positions are in short supply, either because they lack the required experience or because the job is not attractive.
The United States is still far from regaining the labor force participation it enjoyed before the pandemic. The emergence of Covid-19 accelerated the retirement of millions of boomers who were nearing retirement.
The labor participation rate has been falling steadily in the United States since the beginning of the 21st century, with a slight recovery between 2014 to 2019, then suffering a sudden drop during the pandemic and, as of July, a slight recovery that continues at present.
A steep drop in immigration has also affected U.S. employers, who are not finding enough job applications to fill jobs that would normally be filled by migrants.
Hospitality, tourism and entertainment continue to lead recovery in employment numbers
The hospitality, tourism and entertainment sectors continued to drive job growth, creating more than 179,000 new jobs. The professional and business services sector created 95,000 new jobs in February.
The health care sector created an additional 64,000 jobs, however, the number of health care workers remains 306,000 jobs below its pre-pandemic levels. Construction also created another 60,000 additional jobs, and is only 11,000 jobs away from returning to its February 2020 levels.
Supply chain bottlenecks have also spurred hiring in the transportation and warehousing sector, which currently has more than 548,000 additional jobs than before the pandemic. By February 2022, this sector created an additional 48,000 jobs.
Manufacturing has not yet recovered the number of jobs it lost in the pandemic, and at present remains 178,000 jobs short. In February 2022, the U.S. manufacturing sector created 36,000 more jobs.
While the upbeat employment numbers are a good sign for the economy, the data failed to lift market expectations, which remain negative due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and rising oil prices. This week, oil prices rose above $110 a barrel, forecasting more inflation in America and around the world.
Economist, writer and liberal. With a focus on finance, the war on drugs, history, and geopolitics // Economista, escritor y liberal. Con enfoque en finanzas, guerra contra las drogas, historia y geopolítica