US expected to see hiring surge as vaccines resurrect ailing economy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States (US) government is set to release data that could show huge numbers of workers found new jobs last month, the latest sign COVID-19 vaccines are breathing new life into the economy more than a year after the pandemic caused its worst collapse in a generation.

Analysts are forecasting the Labor Department’s April employment report will show the economy added one million positions and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 per cent.

Those figures were unthinkable just months ago when hundreds of thousands of people were filing new applications for unemployment benefits each week. It would be the biggest gain since August of last year, which marked the end of the first wave of hiring helped by massive government aid.

“The labour market rebound likely retained its momentum in April as companies continued to hire in response to easing business restrictions and strengthening consumer demand,” Oxford Economics said in an analysis, though they cautioned the rehiring may not be as strong as expected.

Good news came on Thursday when the Labor Department reported that initial claims for jobless aid fell last week to 498,000, seasonally adjusted, a new pandemic low.

US President Joe Biden and Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell listen as they tour the Carrollton water treatment plant in New Orleans, Louisiana. PHOTO: AFP