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The Mixed Messages in America's Latest Jobs Report

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The Mixed Messages in America's Latest Jobs Report

March 3, 2021

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The latest job numbers reveal that many Americans are out of work. But if they do have a job, they are working harder than ever. The figure below shows American's average pay per hour and weekly hours worked. During the pandemic, hours worked jumped up and stayed high (at least among people who had a job). Pay also increased, but not as sharply. This may be why household balance sheets are still in strong shape, despite a recession. It is unclear why work hours increased and if it will last. It could be that working from home has blurred the lines between work and leisure time and resulted in more hours worked. Or, if firms laid off workers the remaining ones had to pick up the slack. We will find out as more Americans return to their offices later this year. 

Allison Schrager is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow her on Twitter here.

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