The US economy accelerated job creation in March, causing the unemployment rate to drop to 6%, according to official data released on Friday, a recovery driven by the reopening of businesses and a vigorous vaccination campaign.
However, even as the economy begins to recover from restrictions to stop the spread of covid-19, there are still 8.4 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic, the government said.
In March, the economy added 916,000 jobs, the largest increase since August, bringing the unemployment rate to 6%, 0.2 percentage points less than in February, the Labor Department reported on Friday.
“Job growth was widespread in March, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector, public and private education and construction,” the statistics office said in a statement.
These figures exceed analysts’ expectations and reflect that the recovery thanks to the vaccination campaign and the improvement in the outlook has been more widespread than was initially projected.
According to the government, “this improvement in the labor market reflects the continued resumption of economic activity that had been constrained by the pandemic.”
Unemployment is a key vital sign about the state of the economy and the dynamism of the recovery, and US President Joe Biden is scheduled to appear on Friday to discuss the numbers.
In March, the government managed to get Congress to pass a massive $ 1.9 million stimulus plan to ease the economy, help households and businesses, which included the direct transfer of $ 1,400 payments to families.
This augurs that the April figures could be more encouraging because they will incorporate the full effects of these stimuli on consumption – which is the engine of the US economy – and will instill confidence.
This week Biden announced a massive infrastructure plan that aims for a structural transformation geared toward a green economy, but also aims to create millions of jobs.
– Scars of the pandemic –
Rubeela Farooqi, chief economist for the United States at the HFE consultancy, said that net payroll growth was higher than expected in March.
“The news about employment growth will be more positive in the coming months as the health situation is less of a threat and the distribution of vaccines allows a return to a normal post-pandemic situation,” Farooqi added.
Currently, according to the latest data from the government Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the United States has vaccinated almost 100 million people with at least one dose and more than 56 million received both inoculations.
Regarding the scars left by this crisis, statistics show that the number of long-term unemployed – without employment for more than 27 weeks – stood at 4.2 million, almost unchanged from last month.
Since February 2020, before the pandemic crisis broke out and when unemployment stood at 3.5%, this group had 3.1 million fewer people.
Consulting firm Pantheon Macro indicated that the economy is still functioning with 11 million fewer jobs than would have been expected if the pandemic had not occurred.
“We hope that maybe half of those jobs will be recovered by the middle of the year,” he said.