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As the panic around the Omicron variant seems to be subsiding, many Americans are wondering what the future of the nation’s economy will look like after COVID-19. With the introduction of a vaccine and subsequent decreasing case numbers, are the nation’s jobs and economy on the way back? Read on below to find out.
More job growth
While the number of jobs isn’t necessarily growing beyond what it was before COVID-19, things certainly seem to be rebounding. At the peak of the pandemic in April of last year, the amount of employed Americans dropped to 130 million but has since risen above 150 million and seems to still be rising.
Part of this change is due to many in-person jobs being open again as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but the broad shift to remote work has also affected this growth. The number of people working remotely skyrocketed during the pandemic, shifting from 5.7% in 2018 up to 41.7% in 2020 and now stabilizing somewhere around 26%. As more companies begin to shift in this direction, you can expect to see these numbers continue to rise.
Unemployment rate dropping
With millions of Americans going back to work, the unemployment rate is naturally dropping back closer to pre-pandemic levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate rose to a staggering 15% in April last year but has now stabilized around 4% which is on track with where we were as a country before the pandemic.
So far in 2022, the unemployment rate has dropped by 2.4%, but it’s not yet known whether this rate will continue to drop or if it will stabilize at 4%. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate had been dropping steadily every year since 2009, from 9.9% in 2009 down to 3.6% in 2019.
Other economic concerns
Although there seems to be a trend of jobs coming back as the economy begins to recover from the pandemic, we aren’t out of the woods quite yet. Job growth and unemployment rate are important economic metrics, but they aren’t the only ones. All over the country, people are being hit by higher prices for food, gas, and nearly everything else, caused by the rapid inflation of the last few years.
The inflation rate in 2021 ended up at 7.5%, the highest it’s been since 1982. Even though millions of Americans are now able to get back to work, the rising inflation continues to make life difficult. According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, at the start of 2020, there was $4 trillion USD in circulation, but that number has risen to over $20 trillion, meaning that 80% of all U.S. currency in circulation was printed within the last 14 months.
Overall, things are looking up for the return of the post-pandemic economy. The Federal Reserve is taking action to stabilize the inflation rate, and as the unemployment rate continues to drop, it might not be long before the U.S. is back to normal.