Despite a stronger than expected February jobs report that showed an employment increase of 678,000 jobs and a 3.8 percent unemployment rate on Friday morning, the American economy is still struggling to keep up with inflationary pressure and grappling with damage caused by pandemic lockdowns and restrictions according to Labor Department data.
The report shows that in February, 4.2 million Americans remained out of work "because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic," a lasting testament to the effects of COVID lockdowns and restrictions.
Overall, employment in the United States is still "down by 2.1 million, or 1.4 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020," a rebuttal to President Biden's attempts to claim job growth as a result of his policies rather than the measurement of people being able — or being forced by inflation — to return to jobs that already existed before COVID mayhem took hold.
When it comes to wage growth — another statistic often touted by President Biden — February showed average hourly earnings increasing by 5.1 percent. Meanwhile, the latest data on inflation from the federal government showed consumer prices clocking a 7 percent increase year-over-year, leaving Americans with less buying power despite the growth in wages.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that job recovery was "led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction," continuing trends seen in January's jobs report that showed Americans were casting aside pandemic fears to regain some normalcy regardless of CDC recommendations.
In addition, BLS reported that "13.0 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic" in February, "down from 15.4 percent in the prior month" as employers bring staff back to offices.
February's better than predicted report also continues to show a return to the workforce by those who stayed out of the job market longer than necessary to take advantage of extended unemployment benefits.