America’s boom has begun. Can it last?
THE LATEST monthly employment report, published on April 2nd, painted an impressive picture: over the previous month America created more than 900,000 jobs. That figure, the strongest since August, reflects the state of the economy in the first half of March, when the surveys took place. But a look at “high-frequency” economic data for more recent weeks, on everything from daily restaurant diners to Google-search behaviour, suggests that, since then, the recovery has if anything accelerated further. America’s post-lockdown boom has begun.
A rapid bounce-back would be welcome, because the world’s largest economy remains a long way off its pre-pandemic peak, and the damage has been severe. Even after the latest jobs numbers, over 8m fewer people are in work than before the pandemic. The job losses are concentrated among low-income groups (though it is no longer the case that women are more affected than men). One-third of small businesses remain closed. Poverty is higher than it was before covid-19 struck, especially among black families. And the impact of school closures on children’s education could last for decades.
High-frequency data, largely produced by the private sector, are useful in identifying economic turning-points before they get picked up in the government’s figures, which are slower to arrive....