Job openings rose to two-year high in February

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U.S. job openings hit the highest level in two years in February as COVID-19 vaccination progress and loosening restrictions helped kick-start the American economy, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department.

There were roughly 7.4 million jobs open in the U.S. in February, the most since January 2019, thanks to a gain of 268,000 new openings, according to the Labor Department. At the same time, there were almost 10 million workers who lost jobs to COVID-19 who had yet to find new work.

“The February JOLTS report showed labor demand warming up as better health conditions and brightening economic prospects led more companies to resume hiring,” wrote Lydia Boussour at Oxford Economics in a Tuesday analysis.

“The report’s details confirm that the jobs recovery has regained traction,” Boussour added.

The U.S. added 468,000 jobs in February and another 916,000 in March, the Labor Department reported last week, as the rebound from the coronavirus recession accelerated through the first quarter of the year.

Those gains also occurred before President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief bill into law on March 11 that authorized another round of stimulus checks, extended enhanced unemployment benefits, provided aid to state and local governments, and created several tax deductions meant to help struggling workers and families.

Biden and congressional Democrats are also pushing a $2.5 trillion infrastructure plan meant to create millions of well-paying jobs, boost economic output, expand internet access, bolster the supply of affordable housing and combat climate change.

The bill, which would be funded through corporate tax increases, has been universally opposed by congressional Republicans. Even so, Democrats will likely be able to pass the measure through budget reconciliation if they can prevent more than three House Democrats and a single Senate Democrats from opposing it.

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