America’s economy on the mend
The United States today received the most significant sign of an economic turnaround since the pandemic devastated the economy a year ago.
The Labor Department said that American employers added close to a million jobs in March, more than doubling the 416,000 jobs added the month before. The growth was powered by the leisure and hospitality industries as Americans return to restaurants and resorts, and by construction as the housing market heats up.
While the economy has bounced back a few times since the beginning of the pandemic, economists say that the latest data is a turning point because it was the third month of accelerated hiring. The data was collected early in March, before many states broadened vaccine access and many Americans began receiving the $1,400 stimulus checks — meaning the near future looks even brighter.
The virus still poses a risk, especially as the number of cases begins to tick up again, but few economists think it will cause the economy to backpedal. “This time is different, and that’s because of vaccines,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the job site ZipRecruiter. “It’s real this time.”
As the economic recovery gains steam, organizations are plotting what a return to the office may look like. Some have already recalled workers, while others promote their work-from-home policies, worried that if they don’t offer some flexibility, they’ll lose their best people.
Many workers are anxious or panicked about going back — and perhaps never will. They argue that they don’t need to be elbow to elbow with colleagues to be productive and that working from home means less commuting, more time with family and fewer germs.
Renewal in New York City. There are already signs of rebirth: Yankee Stadium welcomed fans yesterday, and some high-end hotels and iconic restaurants are opening. A full recovery is likely years away, however.
A global boost. Global forecasters predict that the stimulus spending in the U.S. could help the economies of Europe and developing countries. As Americans buy more, they should spur trade and investment worldwide.
Answers on vaccine side effects
My colleague Tara Parker-Pope, the founding editor of Well, recently asked readers to send in their questions about vaccinations. Here are some answers, condensed.
Q: I’ve heard the Covid vaccine side effects, especially after the second dose, can be really bad. Should I be worried?
Short-lived side effects like fatigue, headache, muscle aches and fever are more common after the second dose of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines. People interviewed by The Times reported a wide spectrum of responses, from no reaction at all to symptoms like uncontrolled shivering and “brain fog.” They are a sign that your own immune system is mounting a potent response to the vaccine.
Q: Is it true that women are more likely to get worse side effects from a vaccine than men?
It’s true that women may be more likely to report side effects, which has a biological explanation. Estrogen can stimulate an immune response, whereas testosterone can blunt it. In addition, many immune-related genes are on the X chromosome, of which women have two copies and men have only one. These robust immune responses help to explain why 80 percent of autoimmune diseases afflict women.
Q: Are the side effects worse if you’ve already had Covid-19?
Research and anecdotal reports suggest that people with a previously diagnosed Covid-19 infection may have a stronger reaction and more side effects after their first dose of vaccine compared to those who were never infected with the virus. A strong reaction to your first dose also may be a sign that you were previously infected, even if you weren’t aware of it.
Q: What about taking a pain reliever after the shot?
While most experts agree it’s safe to take a pain reliever after you get vaccinated, they advise against taking it as a preventive or if your symptoms are manageable without it.
Read Tara’s full F.A.Q. about vaccine side effects.
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What you’re doing
It’s been such a long time since I met new people without masks on. It’s my first year at university and with the mask, everyone looks the same: emotionless. It is so hard to make real connections with anyone because it is almost impossible to let your personality shine through the mask and social distancing. I start to have the fear at the back of my mind that, when it’s over, I won’t be able to recognize or reconnect with anyone that I met during the pandemic, and a new start in the future will even make this period seem blanker and more wasted. It is this struggle that makes me feel so sad.
— Miriam, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
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