A man wearing a protective face mask walks by a closed business as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues, in Sarasota, Florida, February 15, 2021.
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REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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Jason Furman (PIIE) and Wilson Powell III (Harvard Kennedy School)

The US labor market improved in February as employers added 379,000 jobs, but the economy is still at 11.9 million jobs below its pre-pandemic trend. The official unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent, but a misclassification error over the withdrawal of millions of people from the workforce presents a misleading picture. The “realistic” unemployment rate for February was 8.2 percent, a rate that also adjusts for changes in demography and is designed to be historically comparable to the official unemployment rate.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics building is closed to staff and visitors until further notice. PIIE personnel are working remotely, with access to telephone messages.

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REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton