“U.S. employers added 49,000 jobs last month, returning growth to the labor market after a one month dip, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%,” WSJ writes.
Why It Matters: The small gain comes after a steep decline in December, the first since Covid-19 “triggered business shutdowns last spring.” Broader economic recovery has stalled this winter and jobless claims remain elevated.
- Business and professional services grew strongly, while leisure, hospitality, retailers, health-care companies and warehouses cut jobs.
There’s Good News Though: “Economists see the winter lull as temporary. They expect growth to pick up later this year as more people get vaccinated and business restrictions further ease. Many economists also say the economy could benefit from further government stimulus.”
- Congress is currently weighing a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that would feature $1,400 checks for Americans.
Meanwhile, Canada was hit a bit harder as a “fresh lockdown weighs on the nation’s economy.” The U.S.’s neighbors to the north lost 213,000 jobs in January and saw its unemployment rate climb to 9.4%. Canada also lost 52,700 jobs in December.
Looking Ahead: Covid-19 remains the key obstacle here. Whether new, more-transmissible variants spread could determine how long businesses stay closed. Vaccination rollout issues keep herd-immunity prospects on a longer-term timeline.