Boost in jobs US faces omicron, new challenge

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(Bloomberg) – US job growth is projected to top half a million a second month in November, although the new omicron variant could test this momentum and keep potential workers on the sidelines longer.

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The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists is for a 546,000 payroll increase – which would be the most since an increase of more than a million in July – and an unemployment rate that would drop slightly to 4.5%. . Although the labor market is beginning to take further steps, the supply of employment remains well below the demand.

November’s figures could be crucial in determining whether Federal Reserve officials will decide later this month to accelerate the reduction of the emergency stimulus, a possibility pointed out by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at Congressional hearings this week. —To help contain the most rampant inflation in decades.

Yet another spike in infection rates and the rise in the omicron variant could keep labor force participation at already weak levels.

“If another surprise hike is seen, that could help tip the balance in favor of a faster drawdown,” said Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. “But omicron is really a wild card. Even if there was a really strong employment report, that could nullify it and keep the Fed on hiatus. “

Employers have offered higher wages and bonuses to entice Americans to work. While they are having some success, millions are still out of the workforce.

Persistent fears of contracting the virus, despite strong vaccination rates, remain a real stumbling block for many. The lack of affordable childcare services has also restricted working parents, and covid outbreaks continue to disrupt face-to-face learning in some schools.

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Additionally, trillions of dollars in government aid have allowed many to take a deliberate approach to their job search, while millions more Americans retired early during the pandemic with greater savings.

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