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Hiring Unexpectedly Rose in January; Hiring Did Pick Up in December

New data now reveals that new jobs were added in the United States by about 467,000, unexpectedly rising much more than anticipated. This latest report also reveals that employers were much more successfully recruiting workers at the end of 2021 than previously thought. Previously, data revealed that only 150,000 new jobs were added in December 2021. Now, new data from the United States government corrects this, as about 510,000 new jobs were added in December. Employment also rose in November, with 647,000 jobs being added, rather than the previously recorded 249,00.

This huge change in numbers is very positive for the United States economy and for the labor market, which is still attempting to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as a whole. Previously, economists anticipated only about 150,000 new jobs to be added in January. This likely could’ve been because of the dismal, previously thought of December numbers. However, now it does appear as if more workers are finally returning to the workforce, just as analysts had hoped for and anticipated.

This increase in hiring also comes amid the Omicron variant’s spread. The Omicron variant, which was first revealed at the end of November, is highly contagious and has caused infections and cases to surge around the United States. Many analysts were worried that, because of this contagiousness, different aspects of the economy would falter. The original dismal hiring numbers of December were thought to possibly be a result of the Omicron variant.

However, this new December data, as well as the optimistic January numbers, now signal that the Omicron variant has negatively impacted the labor market as initially thought. The variant has impacted how businesses run — mainly because of a shortage of workers as a result of infections — but it hasn’t actually harmed employers’ ability to bring in new workers. 

This new revision by the government occurred through normal revisions down of monthly numbers, as well as by tax records filed by businesses and individuals. 

While this new data is much more positive for the labor market than previously imagined, there are still major issues the labor market as a whole much deal with before recovery can fully happen. In many ways, where the labor market stands today is remarkable, having recovered almost fully since the pandemic began. However, to keep the market strong, major things need to happen.

For example, many employers are still struggling to find the accurate amount of workers to hire. At the end of December, 10.9 million job openings were recorded. So, even though more and more workers are being hired, there still remains a need for even more workers. This may even out if consumer demand lessens in the next few months, but this could still remain a problem in the future. Unemployment rates have lessened, though, so most signs point towards more recovery.

About four million workers have still not returned to the workforce since the pandemic first began in 2020. Because of mass retirements and voluntary quitting, as well as career changes, this full amount may never return to work. 

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