The unemployment rate for February experienced a good decline. The employers in the nation continued a full speed of hiring in the previous month. This led to the labor market reaching near capacity of employment in the nation. But the increasing pressure from the geopolitical tensions could slow down the increase in jobs and leave a dent in the confidence among businesses in the near future. The closely watched employment report of the Labor Department shows that the conditions in the labor market are narrowing even further. The unemployment rate is continuing its decreasing trend, and the shortage of employees is leading to an increase in wages. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the labor market is quite narrow. He told the lawmakers that he would give his support to an increase in the interest rates by the Federal Reserve that is going to happen in the coming weeks.
He also stated that the Federal Reserve is ready to make more aggressive moves if the inflation does not subside as fast as they want. The prices of oil have been pretty high since the war between Russia and Ukraine started. This led to a lot of sanctions against Russia by the United States of America and its various allies. Further, the survey of establishments is going to show that the nonfarm payrolls have grown by nearly half a million jobs in the previous month after increasing by a similar number in January. This would make the unemployment rate remain at more than two million jobs than what was present before the pandemic. Experts predict that all the lost jobs will be gained back later in the year. The payrolls in the previous month range from as low as a hundred thousand to as high as a gain of 750,000.
Indeed's economic research director Nick Bunker said, "If we see more numbers like this moving forward, we can be optimistic about this year. Employment is growing at a strong rate, and joblessness is getting closer and closer to pre-pandemic levels. Still, we cannot take anything for granted in these uncertain times. But suppose the recovery can keep up its current tempo. In that case, several key indicators of labor market health will hit pre-pandemic levels this summer." Charles Schwab chief fixed-income strategist Kathy Jones said, "We're getting back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of labor force participation. Job growth is still quite healthy and strong. So things are really good. As more people come back to work and participation picks up, the level of wage gains should start to subside a little bit. In terms of the Fed worrying about inflation driven by people making more money, I guess that's good news."
Unemployment Rate Has Reduced Because of Payrolls
The payrolls have increased robustly in January. This is despite a record number of citizens being absent from their workplaces in that month because of sickness. This was when the country was stricken from a winter wave of coronavirus cases caused by the latest Omicron wave. The infections have seen a sharp decrease since then. The Household Pulse Survey of the Census Bureau showed that nearly eight million citizens were not at their workplaces earlier in the previous month because they were down with coronavirus symptoms or were busy caring for someone else. Still, this figure is a big decline from the unemployment rate of January. The number of citizens getting unemployment aid from the state was the smallest in over fifty years in the previous month.
Another data released showed that there had been robust gains in jobs. It showed big growth in the number of employees in the workplace and the number of hours worked. The shift work in the previous month also had its biggest monthly gain since the spring of a couple of years ago. Chief economist at EY-Parthenon Gregory Daco said, "Indeed, the current energy price shock creates a real bind for central bankers. Given the high-inflation environment, Fed policymakers will want to balance the risk of a 'stagflationary' shock and a shift to a higher inflation regime with the risk of normalizing policy too rapidly and precipitating the ongoing tightening of financial conditions."
Citizens Financial Group Managing Director Eric Merlis said, "The labor market recovery remains very robust across the board as more Americans are returning to work. Geopolitical issues and inflation pose ongoing threats to the US economic recovery. Still, pandemic restrictions are being lifted, and we continue to see strong job growth." Sung Won Sohn, professor at Loyola Marymount University, said, "The employment report will show the US economy is healthy and continuing to move forward. But geopolitical problems will push inflation higher and have created a tremendous amount of uncertainties that will put a damper on economic growth and jobs going forward."
Downside Risks Can Affect the Unemployment Rate
The Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve said that there had been widespread demand for employees. But they had been restricted by an equivalent absence of workers in the labor market. There were nearly eleven million job openings at the end of the previous year. The job growth in the previous month was mostly focused on the hospitality and leisure industry. It also included other sectors such as retail that were hit quite badly by the Omicron variant a couple of months ago. Surveys state that firms in these industries were not able to hire direct employees and even non-employee labor. Thus, there can be moderate gains in business services and professional employment in the near future when these issues go away a little.
Experts have predicted that the unemployment rate report will be one of the factors that will influence the interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve in the coming period. The financial markets in the country have factored in a small hike in the interest rates after the high inflation readings and the disappointing employment report of January. But because of the recent fallout of the war between Russia and Ukraine that led to the increase in prices, a big hike is predicted to be the way now for the Federal Reserve. Experts say that there may be more than six rate hikes this year. The disparity in the economy is because of an uneven recovery of the labor market during the coronavirus pandemic. The labor market is experiencing discrimination and labor segmentation, including more women of color holding precarious jobs. This leads to gaps in the outcomes in the labor market along gender and race lines.
Institute for Women's Policy Research President Nicole Mason said, "We need to pay attention to this so that we don't leave people behind in the recovery or turn away from the work that still needs to happen in order to make sure that everyone is able to recover, especially those who were disproportionately impacted by job and income losses during the pandemic." Chief international economist at ING James Knightley said, "I'm biased more towards a softer payrolls number, but with a pretty good wage figure. All the evidence does suggest that companies are trying to recruit staff and also retain staff as well because of these high turnover statistics." Glassdoor's senior economist for job placement Daniel Zhao said, "This report indicates that the job market is healthy and resilient to the ebbs and flows of the pandemic. We've seen that job gains have been over 400,000 for 10 months in a row."
The Federal Reserve is keeping a close watch on the unemployment rate. The monetary policymakers feel that the economy of the nation is near-total employment. This has added to the pressures in cost that have increased amid the demand surges and the supply shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic. The inflation has come as the US House has infused more than four trillion in stimulus in the economy. In contrast, the Federal Reserve has kept the benchmark borrowing rates near zero. They have also infused a similar amount of money into the economy through asset buyback. The officials of the Federal Reserve are going to start increasing the interest rates in the following weeks. The market prediction is that these interest rate hikes will likely continue throughout this year.