What’s Up? (March 27-April 2)
Another Strong Jobs Report
The March report continued the strong gains of recent months, with U.S. employers adding 431,000 jobs. The unemployment rate declined, and now, at 3.6 percent, it is just a touch higher than it was before the pandemic. The economy has recovered more than 90 percent of the 22 million jobs lost in the spring of 2020, far surpassing initial forecasts. March’s showing may help tell a story about the changing attitudes toward the coronavirus, particularly as companies move ahead with return-to-office plans — the share of office workers doing their jobs remotely fell to 10 percent in March — and as tourism and in-person entertainment have largely resumed. The public “may be moving toward the idea that ‘the Covid era’ of the U.S. economy is done,” one economist said.
A Record Release of Oil Reserves
In an effort to push down energy prices that have skyrocketed since Russia went to war in Ukraine, President Biden said Thursday that the United States would release up to 180 million barrels of oil in the coming months from its strategic reserves. The announcement had the desired effect in the immediate term: Oil prices fell on Wednesday night, when Mr. Biden’s plans were first reported, and stayed lower on Thursday after the president spoke about the record release of crude. And on Friday, the International Energy Agency said its 31 member nations had agreed to a new release of emergency oil reserves. OPEC Plus, a group of oil producers that includes Russia, said it would stick to its previous plan for modest monthly increases, however.
Supply Chain Gridlock for Cars
Toyota Motor said its new vehicle sales dropped 15 percent in the first quarter as a chip shortage persisted and slowed production. This isn’t just Toyota’s problem: General Motors also announced a significant decline in sales, and other automakers were also expected to report underwhelming numbers as they continued to face shortages…
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