The unemployment rate in the United States fell in January and the economy started to create jobs again, but at a slow pace, a sign that the pandemic is still restraining economic activity.
The unemployment rate stood at 6.3%, against 6.7% in November and December, and 49,000 jobs were created, the Ministry of Labor said on Friday.
The job creation seen in January is a trend reversal after the economy destroyed some in December for the first time since April. Analysts had expected a stable unemployment rate at 6.7% and 50,000 job creations.
They are certainly an encouraging sign, but their slow pace suggests that the labor market is far from recovered from the damage caused by the pandemic.
“In January, notable job creation in business services and in public and private education were offset by losses in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, health care and transport and logistics ”, details the ministry in a press release.
More than a third of the unemployed have now been out of work for more than six months, and 6 million people work forced part-time.
The number of people considered unemployed is 10.1 million, almost twice as many as before the crisis.
And that does not take into account a significant portion of people who have lost their jobs – self-employed workers, for example – since in total, more than 17 million Americans receive unemployment benefits, according to data released Thursday.
In addition, inequalities continue to widen, since unemployment is lowest among white workers (5.7%), declining a little, but remains very high among Hispanic (8.6%) and especially black workers ( 9.2%), and is even on the rise for Asian workers (6.6%).
“As the economy has passed the worst of the third wave of COVID and vaccine-related optimism sets in, the job market is showing a low heart rate,” said Gregory Daco, analyst for Oxford Economics, in a statement.
The pandemic had, in two months, pushed the US unemployment rate up from 3.5% in February, its lowest in 50 years, to 14.8% in April, its highest in 80 years.
Only over half of the 22 million jobs that were destroyed by then have been recreated.