Labor market shrugs off omicron surge

The U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January, beating expectations and showing a resilience to the latest surge in the COVID-19 virus.

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“This is really an indication of the strength of the labor market,” said Heather Boushey, a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. “Of course, that is on top of revisions to the past couple of months that they pull those up as well.”

In addition to reporting the January numbers, the Bureau of Labor also revised up December’s new jobs from 199,000 to 510,000 and November’s from 210,000 to 647,000.

UPDATE: Employers add 467K jobs despite economists predicting report to be the worst in years

“Workers and families have more coping mechanisms and of course a lot of this has (happened) through the fact that 75% of Americans are now fully vaccinated,” says Boushey.

Economists say the economy is starting to come into equilibrium with the virus as more Americans have access to vaccines, treatments and tools for mitigation.

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“I think there are a couple phenomenon going on here. One is that people have sort of become accustomed to living with COVID. In a sense the pandemic has gone on for two years. We’re not in the delta wave anymore,” says Jonathan Bydlak, the director of fiscal and budget policy for the R Street Institute. “We do have vaccines that at least prevent some of these really bad outcomes, and so I think that there is this sense among ... an increasing number of Americans that this is something that can be dealt with.”

Florida, which has seen hospitalizations due to COVID decrease in the last several days, will not release its jobs numbers until Feb. 14.  However, the key drivers of the Central Florida economy — leisure and hospitality — saw significant increases in the national jobs report from January.

READ: As investors eye Orlando’s real estate market, young workers feel pushed out

“I think leisure, domestic travel has bounced back to where we were pre-pandemic. We’re still waiting for the international piece to come into place, and that may take a while,” says Dr. Sean Snaith, an economist at UCF. “Different countries and requirements and testing and quarantine rules, so that’s lagging behind domestic leisure.”

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