U.S. Job Growth Dwarfs Expectations

The COVID-19 pandemic remains a reality, but U.S. hiring surged last month as the economic activity picked up amid a progressive drop in cases and vaccines provided hope of more growth ahead.

The U.S. Labor Department on Friday reported that non-farm payrolls jumped by 379,000 for the month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%. That compared to expectations of 210,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady from the 6.3% rate in January.

Employment growth had flattened over the past two months amid a rise in cases and renewed government-imposed shutdowns over the winter. Still, most economic indicators continued to rise, and first-quarter Gross Domestic Product growth is expected to defy previous expectations for a flat or only slightly better environment.

Still, despite the February gain, the jobs market still has a long way to heal, with millions of workers displaced by the pandemic still looking for employment. Recent indicators show that job postings are continuing to increase, but still at a rate well below what is needed for a full recovery.