First American News LLC: Raleigh, NC: President Joe Biden said America is “back to work” and putting the Covid-19 pandemic behind it, after the labor market showed unexpected strength last month even as cases of the virus surged.
“America’s job machine is going stronger than ever,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. He praised “the extraordinary resilience and grit of the American people, and American capitalism.”
Nonfarm payrolls jumped 467,000 in January, well over the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists that called for 125,000, though forecasts ranged widely. Previous months were also revised upward, adding to the gain. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4%, and average hourly earnings jumped.
Biden administration officials had also warned in recent days that the omicron variant of Covid would depress the numbers because brief absences from work could overstate the tally of unemployed people for last month.
Biden credited the American Rescue Plan, an aid package passed early in his presidency, and pointed to a sharp decline in Covid cases as evidence the country is moving past the virus. While cases and hospitalizations have fallen, the virus is still killing about 2,500 people in the U.S. each day.