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Americans are returning to the job market

A company says it is looking for staff, in Arlington, Virginia, on March 16, 2022.

Two years after the appearance of Covid-19, the consequences of the pandemic on the job market have almost been erased in the United States. The unemployment rate fell to 3.6% of the active population in March (–0.2% compared to February), i.e. a level almost identical to the 3.5% which prevailed in February 2020, its lowest point. level in fifty years, according to figures published on Friday 1er April by the Ministry of Labor.

The economy created 431,000 jobs in March. It is a little less than expected, but it is the eleventh consecutive month of increase above 400,000. Result: the country which had destroyed 21.6 million jobs when the pandemic broke out, only accuses a delay of 1.6 million jobs compared to February 2020. “Americans are back to work. And that’s good news for millions of families who have a little more leeway and the dignity that comes with a payslip,” immediately rejoiced President Joe Biden.

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Above all, the phenomenon which has been described as a “great resignation” in recent months, suggesting that Americans do not wish to return to the labor market, is gradually fading. The rate of participation in employment (people with a job or looking for one) in fact rose in March by a tenth of a point, to 62.3%. This is worse than the 63.4% before the crisis, but better than the 60.2% of April 2020.

A start

Among the explanations for this jump: fewer and fewer Americans say they are unable to work because of Covid-19 and childcare problems – their number has fallen from 8.8 million in January to 2.8 million in March. Retirees are also returning to work: 3% of them returned in February according to the wall street journal. Today, the number of 25-54 year olds present on the labor market also exceeds those of the beginning of 2020.

Hourly wages increased by 5.6% over one year and weekly wages by 4.6%. This increase remains below inflation and there is no month-on-month boom, with an increase of around 0.5% in March. However, the market remains extremely tight, with two job offers per unemployed person. This should confirm the Federal Reserve (Fed, central bank) in its analysis that the job market is extremely robust, even overheated. It can therefore allow itself to cause an economic slowdown by raising its key rates – an increase deemed necessary to curb the rise in prices.

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