WASHINGTON – A surge in hiring in the United States last month — 916,000 added jobs, the most since August — coincides with growing confidence that a blistering pace of job growth will continue as vaccinations increase and federal aid fuels economic growth.
The most optimistic economists even predict that between now and year’s end, the nation could produce as many as 10 million more jobs and restore the labor market to its pre-pandemic level.
Maybe so. Yet even in normal times, it would be hard to regain all those jobs so quickly. And these aren't normal times.
Many people who've been thrown out of the labor force remain fearful of the coronavirus and reluctant to take face-to-face service jobs. Millions of women are still caring for children attending school online — and can't take jobs because they can't find or afford child care.
Extended unemployment aid has meant that some employers might have to pay more to attract workers, which they may feel unable to do. And some people will need new skills before they can land a job to replace the one they lost.
While few doubt that the trillions in federal money flowing through the economy will help accelerate hiring, the challenges are sure to endure. Here's a look at some of them: