America’s employers likely stepped up their hiring in February as confirmed viral cases declined, consumers spent big chunks of their government aid checks and the economy appeared to be sustaining a tentative recovery.
Economists have forecast that job growth reached 175,000 last month, according to data provider FactSet. That would mark a sharp improvement over an average of just 29,000 jobs a month from November through January.
Yet with the nation still 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level, monthly hiring would need to significantly accelerate to bring relief to the many people who remain laid off, especially at restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and other areas of the hospitality industry that are far from recovered. The unemployment rate is predicted to have ticked up from 6.3% to 6.4% on the assumption that more Americans started looking for work in February and began to be counted as unemployed.
January showed little recovery for the job market, with just 49,000 jobs added for the month. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill without any affirmative votes from Republicans.
One year into the pandemic, most analysts are growing more optimistic that hiring will accelerate in the coming months, with the economy strengthening and gauges of consumer spending and manufacturing rising. Americans as a whole have accumulated a huge pile of savings after having slashed spending on travel, movie…