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US economy adds 49K jobs in rebound from COVID-fueled loss

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The US economy added 49,000 jobs in January as the labor market rebounded from the latest wave of coronavirus lockdowns, the feds said Friday.

The modest payroll growth came after employers shed 227,000 jobs in December amid a deadly wave of COVID-19 infections, marking the first loss in eight months.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ closely watched jobs report was slightly weaker than economists’ expectations for a gain of 58,000 jobs, according to Wrightson ICAP. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent in December.

While the job market is once again trudging toward recovery, there’s still a long way to go — the economy has only recovered about 12 million of the 22 million jobs it lost when the pandemic hit last spring, federal data show.

“It may be a few months before warmer weather, less COVID, and more consumer confidence before consumers go on a shopping spree which will provide the real stimulus and job creation,” said Dan North, senior economist at Euler Hermes North America.

The latest figures came as President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package wound its way through Congress. The bill would deliver another round of direct payments to Americans and provide other support for the economy as officials roll out COVID-19 vaccines.

While the job market is once again trudging toward recovery, there's still a long way to go.
While the job market is once again trudging toward recovery, there’s still a long way to go.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Ultimately, what ails the economy is the pandemic and vaccinations are the only solutions for that,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at

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