Economic Update: March 2022
Change State Friends,
We’ve been busy these past few months, growing our team and welcoming new clients on board. Spring is right around the corner and we hope you are getting the chance to get outside and enjoy the weather as it turns (we sure are!).
Lots to share in this month’s economic update, and as always we welcome your feedback on how to make these fun and informative.
Last Friday’s jobs report saw the addition of 678,000 jobs and unemployment falling to 3.8%. While we’ve seen more eye-popping numbers last year (nearly 1M in July of 2021), the trend nevertheless tells a very promising story. In the last year, the US economy has added more than 6.6 million jobs: a recovery nearly 8 years faster than that of the Great Recession. Slightly less rosy is the wage outlook, as average hourly wages fell below the expected .5% gain and remained essentially flat, likely due to more low wage workers re-entering the workforce.
A continued trend: the sector with the largest growth is leisure and hospitality, with an added 170,000 jobs last month (although it still remains 1.5 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels). Public sector employment did not fall as sharply at the start of the pandemic as private sector employment, but its recovery has nonetheless lagged behind. Gains in the public sector will be important for the labor market to stay on track towards full recovery by Q3 2022.
Some improvements were made in employment equality in February as well. Although lagging behind men in recouping job losses, more than half of February’s job gains went to women. Much work remains to be done however: while all racial and ethnic groups are continuing to see unemployment rates fall, white unemployment is now lower than Black unemployment has ever been.
What else for March?
- Twitter commentary from EPI economists on February’s jobs report here and here.
- Following the lead of Costco and Starbucks in 2021, Target is raising its starting pay range from $15 to up to $24 an hour, and reducing the minimum hours for eligibility for its healthcare plan.
- (Legal) cannabis industry jobs soared last year by 33%, adding nearly 100K jobs to the US economy, far outstripping growth in many other sectors.
- In Washington state, a bill passed to award gig drivers additional rights, such as paid sick leave and a minimum pay rate. Many worker’s rights advocates don’t see this as a win.
- A recent Pew Research Center study finds that 7 in 10 Americans agree: young adults today have a harder time than their parents’ generation when it comes to “basic” financial rites of passage like saving for the future, paying for college, and buying a home.
(Sources: CNBC, Reuters, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Brookings Institution, Pew Research Center, Economic Policy Institute, Forbes, NPR)