Missing Jobs Highlight the Long Road Ahead for Recovery

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That’s how many lost jobs the U.S. economy has yet to recover, even after February’s employment numbers exceeded economists expectations.

February’s 379,000 increase in payrolls, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday, was more than twice as big as economists expected and was the largest gain for any month since October. But there are still 9.48 million fewer jobs now than there were in February 2020, before the COVID-19 lockdowns crushed the economy. February’s gain now means 12.89 million of the 22.4 million jobs lost to the pandemic have been recovered.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed Thursday the central bank will continue to do what it can to stimulate the labor market, despite rising concerns about inflation. Even with the Fed’s help, it will take some time, Powell said, before the labor market returns to pre-pandemic levels.