Saturday, April 3, 2021

A great March jobs report shows the optimism of 3 weeks ago. But COVID World isn't over yet

We'd seen indications that March's jobs report would be a good one. New jobless claims have declined to the lowest levels we have seen in the COVID World (although they're still high), the ISM manufacturing index was at its highest level since 1983, and

But I don't think anyone was expecting
something like this.
Job growth boomed in March at the fastest pace since last summer, as stronger economic growth and an aggressive vaccination effort contributed to a surge in hospitality and construction jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 916,000 for the month while the unemployment rate fell to 6%.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for an increase of 675,000 and an unemployment rate of 6%. The total was the highest since the 1.58 million added in August 2020.
In addition, January's gains were revised higher by 67,000, and February was revised up by 89,000. This means we had 1.07 million more jobs than what was reported in the last US jobs report, and it cut off about 1/9 of our COVID-era jobs gap.

The President was glad to talk up the jobs report, but also credited the efforts of Americans getting themselves the COVID shot, which helped to clear the way for the big jobs number. Also note the comment from Biden about blue-collar jobs, because it would go with the already-strong bounceback that is happening in manufacturing and construction. I had predicted that February's cold-influenced losses in construction would be reversed in March, which happened and then some.

Seasonally adjusted job change, construction
Feb 2021 -56,000
Mar 2021 +110,000

Combine more hiring in construction with another 53,000 jobs in manufacturing, which means that 930,000 jobs in that sector have come back since April.

In addition, as weather warmed, shots were administered and some states opened up, we saw the beaten-down lodging, arts, and food service sectors take back some of their huge losses.

However, the 3 weeks since the March jobs survey came out has seen COVID starting to mount a comeback in the US (coincidence? Sadly I bet it is not). And now Wisconsin is becoming part of that worrying trend. That 875 is the largest one-day amount of new cases reported in Wisconsin since the 2nd week of February, and our 7-day average is now at our highest level since the start of March, at 531. And just because we had a great March jobs report, it still doesn't mean our economy is still running below potential, as there's still another 8.4 million jobs that have to be gained back just to get back to the point that we were at before the COVID World began.

Lots of work still to be done on many fronts.

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