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The jobs recovery is sputtering. The relief bill may not help it.

Kimberly Adams Mar 3, 2021
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Public-facing industries like leisure and hospitality are likely to remain cautious about hiring. David Becker/Getty Images

The jobs recovery is sputtering. The relief bill may not help it.

Kimberly Adams Mar 3, 2021
Heard on:
Public-facing industries like leisure and hospitality are likely to remain cautious about hiring. David Becker/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In advance of the weekly unemployment numbers out Thursday and the big monthly jobs report Friday morning, we got payroll numbers from the processing firm ADP on Wednesday.

Private-sector payrolls were up, but less than many folks expected — 117,000 instead of the 177,000 or more some had hoped for.

In the ADP numbers, and a bunch of others we’ve seen lately, there are indications that the recovery is stalling, which is why Congress is working on a relief bill at this very moment, trying to give the economy a bit of extra gas. 

The jobs recovery in this pandemic is what Holly Wade calls “disconnected.” She runs the National Federation of Independent Business Research Center.

On the one hand, “industries that are still struggling to keep their doors open, in areas such as leisure and hospitality, the restaurant industries, those businesses that are more public facing,” Wade said, those businesses are going to be cautious about hiring, even as things start to reopen.

At the same time, other industries can’t find enough workers.

“Contractors have had, you know, an amazing last 12 months, maybe better than an average year, because people have more interest in improving their homes and their surroundings in general,” said Marla Bilonick, who runs the Latino Economic Development Center.

The President Joe Biden’s relief bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, does have targeted aid for some of the hardest-hit industries — airlines, for example, and entertainment venues.

But, as Sarah Crozier at small-business group Main Street Alliance points out, “The American Rescue Plan is at its core a rescue plan, right? We’re still talking about triage. We’re still talking about, you know, real COVID immediate needs.”

Cash payments to families, help for the unemployed, money to reopen schools.

“I mean, it will definitely help, it will get more money in pockets. And you know, that might help consumption some, but the only thing we can really do to restore the economy is end the disease,” said Allison Schrager, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Schrager said that while the vaccines are cause for optimism, it will probably still take a while for the labor market to catch up. 

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