The new unemployment report is out, and the numbers are stronger than expected. The highlights:
- New jobs: Employers added 379,000 jobs in February, above expectations of 210,000, reports the Wall Street Journal. The figure is well above the 49,000 jobs gained in January.
- The rate: The unemployment rate ticked down from 6.3% to 6.2%, and CNBC expects the figure to drop further in coming months as vaccinations increase and the economy reopens.
- Bigger picture: The AP sees the numbers as a "hopeful sign for the economy," though there's still a long way to go before regaining all of the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic. About 12 million of them have returned, but economists say it might take until 2024 to get all of them back.
- One view: "The recent hiring trend is just not cutting it in terms of making up for all the jobs last spring," Nela Richardson of Automatic Data Processing Inc. tells the Journal. "But as we reopen the economy, inch-by-inch, that will unleash consumer spending and drive job growth, especially industries that have been most severely affected by the pandemic."
- Big areas: The leisure and hospitality sector showed the biggest gains in hiring, per CNBC. Bars and restaurants led the way with 286,000 new hires.
- Another stat: The Labor Department has a different measure of unemployment that factors in discouraged workers and those with part-time jobs. That remained at 11.1%.
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