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Utah economist on February jobs numbers: “This is a great report”

FILE- This Dec. 24, 2020, file photo shows the U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

American businesses added 379,000 jobs in February, according to the latest monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The U.S. surpassed its expectations for added work opportunities to the labor market for the month of February, reporting an increase of 379,000 jobs. Additionally, the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, according to the Labor Department’s monthly report. 

The number of jobs available is the most the country has seen since October, signaling a strengthening economy amid dropping COVID-19 cases across the country. Economic experts say the revival is in part to consumers spending more money and cities easing restrictions for businesses. 

“This is a great report,” Robert Spendlove, Zions Bank senior economist, told Utah’s Morning News Friday. “We’re not only above the consensus but above the high point people thought we’d be seeing for this month.” 

Jobs report sparks hope in some, concerns for others

However, Spendlove said this is just the beginning. Many Americans are still on the sidelines seeking opportunities to work. 

As a result, the unemployment rate may be closer to 10%, rather than the reported 6.2%, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. 

That’s because “during the pandemic, many people became unemployed. But also a lot of people kind of just gave up on the labor market,” Spendlove said. “They just said, ‘It’s not worth it to even look for a job.’ So, they left the labor force entirely.”

Others worry the growth may throw the U.S. into high inflation, especially if President Joe Biden continues pushing for his $1.9 trillion stimulus package. President Biden said his plan was still needed amid the latest jobs report, which he warned was only temporary.

“The rescue plan is absolutely essential to turning this around, getting kids back to school safely, giving a lifeline to small businesses and getting the upper hand in COVID-19,” President Biden said, according to a report from The New York Times.

Mr. Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal stalled on the Senate floor Friday as Democrats scrambled to achieve their goals while satisfying opposing Republicans about the bill.