678,000 New Jobs Added in February Lowers Unemployment Rate to 3.8%

By: Sean Macari

With COVID-19 cases dropping this past month, we have seen an increase in the number of personnel coming back to work. The pandemic’s grip on the job market seems to have loosened. In the month of February, U.S. employers added 678,000 new jobs, up from the 467,000 added in January. In fact, employers across the country have combined to add 400,000 new jobs in every month since last May, the longest such streak to ever be recorded. The strong and consistent growth over the past year has added over 7 million jobs and has the United States heading in the direction of pre-pandemic employment levels.

It is noteworthy, however, that as a nation we are still down 2.1 million jobs from two years ago. This past month, the construction, leisure, retail, and hospitality sectors all showed positive job gains. If these trends continue, we should be back to pre-pandemic levels come summertime. One of the shifts currently happening in the labor market is streamlined hiring processes. Large retail and hospitality companies have accelerated their hiring practices to get workers back. Because of this, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has decreased to its lowest rate since the first week of the year.

Despite the increase in jobs and positive employment numbers, wages have not kept up with increasing inflation, now at a forty year high. The Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates and has taken away pre-pandemic support it previously had in place.  Moving forward, it is uncertain how the war between Ukraine and Russia will impact the United States’ economy. Global oil prices have already skyrocketed leading to an increase in gas prices.  Paired with inflation, longer commutes could affect prospective candidates’ willingness to accept in-person positions.  The threat of increasing energy prices and a withdrawal in consumer spending may lead to businesses reducing their hiring efforts, a looming threat over the nation’s strong economic recovery.

Sean Macari is the Chief Executive Officer and owner of Valiant Search, an executive search firm headquartered in Albany, New York that recruits and places attorneys and legal support for law firms and legal departments.  He can be reached at (518) 732-7848 or info@valiantsearch.com.

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