(Headline USA) U.S employers added just 49,000 jobs in January, a sign that that the viral pandemic retains a tight grip on the economy as blue-state governors have kept their citizens under lockdowns, while President Joe Biden‘s campaign prediction of a “dark winter” is fulfilled.
The tepid increase followed a decline of 227,000 jobs in December, the first loss since April, after a summer of limited recovery under former President Donald Trump.
The unemployment rate for January fell from 6.7% to 6.3%, the Labor Department said Friday.
About half the drop occurred because some of those out of work found jobs, while others stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.
Biden, through dozens of executive orders, has rapidly shut down the U.S. energy economy and otherwise reimposed strangling government regulations on business and industry.
His commitment to imposing his Green New Deal on U.S. citizens has killed whatever minimal optimism about the economy that may have existed.
Friday’s figures reflect a faltering job market, slowed by a government response to a virus that is still causing consumers to avoid traveling, shopping, dining out, attending entertainment venues and engaging in other forms of face-to-face contact.
Nearly 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic.
Some states and localities re-imposed restrictions on businesses in December as cases spiked.
Some of those restrictions were loosened in January, though perhaps not in time to affect the jobs report, which measures employment in the middle of each month.
As hiring has slowed, many employers have continued to lay off workers.
The number of applications for unemployment benefits, though declining for the past few weeks, remained at an elevated 779,000 last week.
The hardships that millions of Americans are suffering trends have fueled Biden’s push for a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which would provide $1,400 checks for most U.S. individuals and a $400 weekly unemployment payment on top of state benefits. The package would also extend two federal jobless aid programs, from mid-March through September.
But the policies of continued money-printing and over-regulation may offset those limited measures.
The damage to the job market has widened financial inequality in the United States, especially hurting women and people of color — reversing trends that were observed under Trump.
At the same time, Americans fortunate enough to have kept their jobs have amassed $2.3 trillion in savings — double the pre-pandemic total.
Few signs show that the economy could improve. Auto sales rose in January. And a gauge of business growth in the service sector picked up to its highest level in two years. It also showed that services firms added workers last month.
A separate measure of manufacturing indicated that factories are also expanding. So is spending on home construction.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.