US labour market strengthens after jobs surge, oil prices hit 14-month high
- March, 2021
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The US economy bounced back strongly in February adding 379,000 jobs as more states reopened for business and more vaccines against the coronavirus became available, write Dominic Rushe and Michael Sainato on the other side of the pond.
The number was the largest gains the Department of Labor has recorded since November and came after jobs were lost in December and a lackluster January report when just 49,000 new jobs were added. The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.2%.
Coronavirus infection rates remain at high levels and close to 520,000 people have now died of Covid-19 but states including Texas, Massachusetts and New York have all moved to roll back business closures as more vaccine becomes available.
The latest job report means the US is still close to 10m jobs short of where it was before the pandemic hit and troubling signs remain in the employment market.
James Ingram, investment manager at fund manager MB Capital, says:
A much better figure than we saw last month and much higher than analysts’ expectations. When you consider the cold snap that swept across the US in February that slowed down production and brought some industries to a stop, it shows how much higher this figure could have been. This is certainly one for the optimists and we’re already predicting that next month’s announcement could be even higher as things continue to progress in the US.
The only fear we have is treading that fine line between the economy recovering and overheating. The US have a lot of jobs to make up for to get back up to the non-farm payroll pre-covid high balanced against the concerns that the economy is overheating after the huge recovery package injected into the mix, which could mean we’ll see inflationary pressures add a negative aspect to the recovery. It’s not a nice thought to think we want to get Americans back into the jobs that they lost last year but too quickly and it could be viewed negatively by the market for fear of interest rate rises just as people are getting back on their feet.