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These charts show how the economy is recovering from pandemic’s uncertainty

These charts show how the economy is recovering from pandemic's uncertainty


These charts show how the economy is recovering from pandemic’s uncertainty

It’s been 20 months since coronavirus precautions shut down the U.S. and other world economies, but a raft of positive news suggests the last phase of the recovery could be within reach:Less optimistic was the U.S. gross domestic product’s 2% third-quarter growth rate, which landed with a thud in late October, but the pullback might have reflected more late-summer delta variant concerns and rising coronavirus infections.Similar concerns in the third quarter initially appeared to drive September’s jobs gains to their lowest levels of the year. That changed Friday when the latest jobs report added a half million workers in October and a combined 235,000 jobs to September’s and August’s estimates. The USA remains 4.2 million workers (or eight months at 2021’s strong pace) short of recovering to the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020. Those workers and their industries could hold the key to a full recovery. Of all the industries the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks, restaurants, hotels and many others in recreation fields have the longest road ahead to approach pre-pandemic levels.In February 2020, hospitality and leisure represented about 11% of U.S. workers; In October, a third of the 4.2 million missing jobs were in hospitality and leisure – even after adding 164,000 jobs or a third of the entire month’s increases.Wall Street bets that as coronavirus infections and deaths decline, more Americans will venture out, and the end of the international travel ban will fill more hotel rooms and restaurant tables. In the hours after the jobs numbers were released Friday, all three major indexes (S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average) closed at record highs.Nearly half of the top-performing stocks that hit 52-week highs Friday on the New York Stock Exchanged centered around retail, travel or commercial real estate – industries that would benefit from a receding pandemic. Among them: Live Nation Entertainment, up 17%, and MGM Resorts, up 6%.And Main Street has the jobs.Help wanted ads on Indeed, the nation’s largest jobs site, are higher in every state than they were in February 2020. The 20-month differences are as high as 74% in Montana and as low as 25% in Hawaii and 26% in Washington, D.C.Similarly, most industries advertise more jobs than they did before the pandemic. Three prominent industry stragglers as of Oct. 22 remain hospitality and tourism (up 24%), sports (up 14%) and beauty and wellness (up 1%).An emerging concern is whether enough Americans will come back to work. The participation rate – the percentage of working-age people who are employed – is the lowest it’s been since the start of 1977, when more than half of working-age women weren’t in the labor force.The rate had been declining since the start of the Great Recession but had risen to its highest levels in eight years before the coronavirus shutdown. An Indeed Hiring Lab survey in October asked what was holding back Americans who were “not urgently” searching for work. Almost a quarter cited concerns about COVID-19, suggesting many people might return should virus outbreaks abate. A higher percentage of workers named “care responsibilities” among their top reasons, which lands among some Democratic initiatives and resonated in the October job report.In the household survey of the October jobs report, 4.36 million fewer Americans said they are working full- or part-time jobs than in February 2020.That includes more than a million people 55 and older (696,000 men and 593,000 women) — some who may have decided to retire during the pandemic.Most glaringly is the bar that pops up among 25- to 34-year-old women; those 623,000 women are both among prime working age and the age when women become first-time mothers. It’s possible some of the 623,000 women ages 45 to 54 might be caring for aging parents.  Could expanded child care assistance bring more people into the workforce? That’s what President Joe Biden’s big spending initiative is banking on.Biden’s $1.85 trillion Build Back Better budget bill includes billions for subsidized child care, pre-kindergarten and extended child tax credits. A deal Democrats struck Friday night allowed passage of an infrastructure bill and a promise that the Build Back Better bill would get a vote this month.Stories like this are possible because of our subscribers like you. Your support will allow us to continue to produce quality journalism.Stay up to date by signing up for one of our newsletters.Sign upPublished
8:52 pm UTC Nov. 8, 2021
8:03 pm UTC Nov. 8, 2021

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