US adds a strong 379,000 jobs in hopeful sign for economy

U.S. employers added a robust 379,000 jobs last month, the most since October and a sign that the economy is strengthening as confirmed viral cases drop, consumers spend more and states and cities ease business restrictions.

Associated Press

Mar 5, 2021, 1:44 PM

Updated 1,135 days ago

Share:

US adds a strong 379,000 jobs in hopeful sign for economy
U.S. employers added a robust 379,000 jobs last month, the most since October and a sign that the 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 a loss of 306,000 in December. Yet it represents just a fraction of the roughly 10 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, the Labor Department said Friday in its monthly jobs report.
A year into the pandemic that triggered a violent recession, economists are increasingly optimistic that hiring will pick up 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 travel, entertainment and visits to bars and restaurants. Much of that money is expected to be spent once most people feel comfortable about going out.
Friday's figures, by suggesting that the economy is on the mend, could complicate President Joe Biden’s push for his $1.9 trillion economic rescue package, which looks likely to win approval in Congress in the coming weeks. It would provide, among other things, $1,400 checks to most adults, an additional $400 in weekly unemployment aid and another round of aid to small businesses.
With so much money being pumped into the economy, Oxford Economics forecasts that growth will reach 7% for all of 2021, which would be the fastest calendar-year expansion since 1984. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the nation will add a substantial 6.2 million jobs this year, though that wouldn’t be nearly enough to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.
Still, the size of the Biden relief package, coming as the economy is already showing improvement, has stoked fears that growth could overheat and accelerate inflation, sending borrowing costs up and possibly leading the Federal Reserve to jack up interest rates. Those fears have roiled financial markets for the past two weeks.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below:
America's employers likely stepped up their hiring in February as confirmed viral cases declined, consumers spent big chunks of their government aid checks and the economy appeared to be sustaining a tentative recovery.
Economists have forecast that job growth reached 175,000 last month, according to data provider FactSet. That would mark a sharp improvement over an average of just 29,000 jobs a month from November through January.
Yet with the nation still 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level, monthly hiring would need to significantly accelerate to bring relief to the many people who remain laid off, especially at restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and other areas of the hospitality industry that are far from recovered. The unemployment rate is predicted to have ticked up from 6.3% to 6.4% on the assumption that more Americans started looking for work in February and began to be counted as unemployed.
One year into the pandemic, most analysts are growing more optimistic that hiring will accelerate in the coming months, with the economy strengthening and gauges of consumer spending and manufacturing rising. Americans as a whole have accumulated a huge pile of savings after having slashed spending on travel, movie tickets and visits to bars and restaurants. Much of that money is expected to be spent once most people feel comfortable about going out.
And nearly all of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic rescue package looks likely to win approval in Congress in the coming weeks. It would provide, among other things, $1,400 relief checks to most adults, an additional $400 in weekly unemployment aid and another round of aid to small businesses.
With so much money being pumped into the economy, Oxford Economics now forecasts that growth will reach 7% for all of 2021, which would be the fastest calendar-year expansion since 1984. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the nation will add a substantial 6.2 million jobs this year, though that wouldn't be nearly enough to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.
Still, the size of the Biden relief package, coming as the economy is already showing improvement, has stoked fears that growth could overheat and spur higher inflation, send borrowing costs up and lead the Federal Reserve to jack up interest rates. Those fears have roiled financial markets for the past two weeks.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell sought to assuage those concerns on Thursday - without success, based on sharp selloffs in the stock and bond markets - when he suggested that any meaningful rise in inflation would likely prove temporary and that the Fed would be in no hurry to raise its benchmark short-term rate.
Nor did Powell offer any hint that the Fed would act to push back against a surge in the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has jumped from about 0.9% last year to 1.5% late Thursday. Still, Powell sounded some optimistic notes. Citing in part the increasing distribution and administering of coronavirus vaccines, he said, “There's good reason to expect job creation to pick up in the coming months.”
Other recent economic reports have also suggested better times ahead. Americans sharply increased their spending at retail stores and restaurants in January, when the $600 relief checks were mostly distributed. Retail sales jumped 5.3%, after three months of declines.
Factory output also picked up that month, and demand for long-lasting goods, such as autos and aircraft, rose 3.4%, the government said last week.
Home sales have been on a tear for most of the past year, driven by low mortgage rates and the desire of many Americans for more space during the pandemic. A huge jump in the proportion of people working from home has also driven up sales, which were nearly 24% higher in January than a year earlier.


More from News 12
1:36
Long Island fire departments hold recruitment events amid decline in enrollment

Long Island fire departments hold recruitment events amid decline in enrollment

1:38
Mostly cloudy skies and windy conditions on Long Island

Mostly cloudy skies and windy conditions on Long Island

0:36
Long Island residents participate in Oyster Bay beach and harbor cleanup

Long Island residents participate in Oyster Bay beach and harbor cleanup

0:32
Police: Car overturns following crash on LIE in Brentwood

Police: Car overturns following crash on LIE in Brentwood

0:24
Prosecutors: Central Islip man indicted for killing Bay Shore teen during attempted robbery

Prosecutors: Central Islip man indicted for killing Bay Shore teen during attempted robbery

1:57
7 motorized scooters stolen from Williston Park garage; thieves contacted victim offering to sell them back

7 motorized scooters stolen from Williston Park garage; thieves contacted victim offering to sell them back

1:51
Dozens come out to exhibit to purchase art pieces depicting scenic North Shore

Dozens come out to exhibit to purchase art pieces depicting scenic North Shore

0:26
Shirley man pleads guilty to murder, setting victim's body on fire

Shirley man pleads guilty to murder, setting victim's body on fire

0:20
Freeport photographer accused of forcibly touching teen at Lindenhurst studio

Freeport photographer accused of forcibly touching teen at Lindenhurst studio

0:41
Judge dismisses Blakeman's lawsuit against AG's office connected to transgender athlete ban

Judge dismisses Blakeman's lawsuit against AG's office connected to transgender athlete ban

0:22
Officials: Fire breaks out at home near Wyandanch High School

Officials: Fire breaks out at home near Wyandanch High School

0:28
Police: Yonkers man charged for Old Westbury gas station robbery from nearly a year ago

Police: Yonkers man charged for Old Westbury gas station robbery from nearly a year ago

0:32
Beloved Franklin Square principal returns to Polk Street School following unexplained leave of absence

Beloved Franklin Square principal returns to Polk Street School following unexplained leave of absence

0:44
AG James announces over $1M settlement with Northwell Health for misleading COVID-19 patients

AG James announces over $1M settlement with Northwell Health for misleading COVID-19 patients

1:19
Authorities: Woman injured after shots fired into home in Mastic Beach

Authorities: Woman injured after shots fired into home in Mastic Beach

1:55
LI school districts wait for answers as state budget delays continue

LI school districts wait for answers as state budget delays continue

0:47
Long Island Restaurant Week: Lake View Grill, Legends, Dimon Estate

Long Island Restaurant Week: Lake View Grill, Legends, Dimon Estate

1:12
The East End: Take a tour of the The Shoppes at East Wind

The East End: Take a tour of the The Shoppes at East Wind

1:37
The Real Deal: How to save the next time you dine out

The Real Deal: How to save the next time you dine out

Guide: Long Island Public Golf Courses

Guide: Long Island Public Golf Courses