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    The Work-From-Home Economy and the Urban Job Outlook

    Restaurant Associates is not the company it used to be. It has long operated restaurants, catered events and run corporate dining rooms for clients including Google and the Smithsonian Institution. Now it employs about half of the 10,000 or so people it had on staff before the pandemic.As its lines of business dried up, the company invented new ones. It has made soups and side dishes for the online grocer FreshDirect. It has delivered meals to displaced Wall Street traders working from Connecticut, and to guests attending “virtual galas” from home.Restaurant Associates is probably going to have to keep improvising. Just as things started looking up in the summer — with some museums reopening, businesses scheduling a return to the office, and catered galas bouncing back in full force — the Delta variant of the coronavirus brought everything, again, to a halt.“We were very hopeful that by September we would start coming back strong,” said Dick Cattani, the chief executive. Now, he said, “we don’t know what’s happening, what’s next.”This anxiety is widespread across the American economy. As Kevin Thorpe, chief economist of the commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, noted, “The longer the virus lingers, the more transformative it is going to be.”A critical question is whether the urban service economy — the restaurants, hotels, taxi services and entertainment venues that employ millions of workers — can recover from the multiple waves of Covid-19 that have kept their customers away.After months of social distancing and remote work, this will depend to a large extent on how employers and workers readjust their attitude toward proximity and density — toward space.Three researchers — José María Barrero of Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago — estimate that from April to December 2020, half of the working hours in the American economy were supplied from home. After the pandemic ends, they think, the share will fall to around 20 percent. That is still four times the amount of work delivered remotely in 2017 and 2018.And remote work will be concentrated among the most highly paid workers in the most densely populated places. For instance, over half of the workers in high-skill, information-intensive services — in finance and insurance, information, professional services and management — were still working from home in January, according to researchers from Princeton, Georgetown, Columbia and the University of California, San Diego.Big cities face a dual threat of losing both their most skilled workers and the consumer service economies they sustain, the researchers wrote. “As a result,” the authors added, “they may shrink in size unless they manage to provide advantages that justify the costs of urban density when residential choices are set free from proximity-to-workplace considerations.”About 18 percent of office space in central business districts across the United States is vacant, compared with 12 percent before the pandemic, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Groupon, Twitter, United Airlines and other businesses are shedding office space. Some are rethinking their use of space entirely.Restaurant Associates, which has long operated restaurants, catered events and run corporate dining rooms, is working with about half of the 10,000 or so people it employed before the pandemic.Amy Lombard for The New York TimesAs its lines of business dried up, the company invented new ones.Amy Lombard for The New York TimesRestaurant Associates now delivers meals to guests attending “virtual galas” and Wall Street traders working from home.Amy Lombard for The New York TimesThe sports equipment retailer REI sold the corporate headquarters it was building in the Seattle area, meant to house some 1,800 employees, and is setting up three smaller satellite offices around the area, for workers to gravitate to if they wish. They can work entirely from home, too.“We felt there are moments when being physically together makes a difference but it doesn’t have to be all the time,” said Christine Putur, REI’s executive vice president for technology and operations. “We want to move forward with more habits, new norms — let the outcomes drive when and how we get together.”This reconfiguration of work is likely to reconfigure the American economy, changing wages and spending patterns.Google, for instance, is allowing employees to work remotely. But it will adjust compensation depending on the local cost of living. In a blog post to employees, Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, estimated that some 20 percent of them would choose to work from home permanently. And the company developed a calculator for employees to figure out the effect on their pay.Mr. Davis of the University of Chicago and his co-authors estimate that the increase in working from home will reduce spending in city centers by 5 to 10 percent, hurting business at restaurants, bars and other spots that rely on the spending of office workers.“Some of the leisure and hospitality activities will follow those people that are no longer in the downtown area,” Mr. Davis said. But the spending of newly suburbanized workers may be different, including fewer lunches and happy hours than when they worked downtown.America’s economic geography looks different from what it did two years ago. New York City’s share of the nation’s employment fell to 2.8 percent in July 2021, from 3.1 percent in July 2019. That means about 375,000 fewer jobs than if the city had at least kept pace with the country as a whole. More

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    Europe’s Pandemic Aid Is Winding Down. Is Now the Best Time?

    Governments want vaccinations and a business rebound to carry the economy now, but cutting aid too quickly could create economic aftershocks.PARIS — After almost 18 months of relying on expensive emergency aid programs to support their economies through the pandemic, governments across Europe are scaling back some of these measures, counting on burgeoning economic growth and the power of vaccines to carry the load from here.But the insurgent spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has thrown a new variable into that calculation, prompting concerns about whether this is the time for scheduled rollbacks in financial assistance.The tension can be seen in France, where the number of virus cases has increased more than 200 percent from the average two weeks ago, prompting President Emmanuel Macron to try to push the French into getting vaccinated by threatening to make it harder to shop, dine or work if they don’t.At the same time, some pandemic aid in France — including generous state funding that prevented mass layoffs by subsidizing wages, and relief for some businesses struggling to pay their bills — is being reduced.A government panel recently urged “the greatest caution” about winding down emergency aid even further at the end of the summer.The eurozone economy has finally exited a double-dip recession, data last week showed, reversing the region’s worst downturn since World War II. European Union governments, which have spent nearly 2 trillion euros in pandemic aid and stimulus, have released nearly all businesses from lockdown restrictions, and the bloc is on target to fully vaccinate 70 percent of adults by autumn to help cement the rebound.But the obstacles to a full recovery in Europe remain large, prompting worries about terminating aid that has been extended repeatedly to limit unemployment and bankruptcies.“Governments have provided very generous support through the pandemic with positive results,” said Bert Colijn, senior eurozone economist at ING. “Cutting the aid short too quickly could create an aftershock that would have negative economic effects after they’ve done so much.”In Britain, the government has halted grants for businesses reopening after Covid-19 lockdowns, and will end a special unemployment benefit top-up by October. At least half of the 19 countries that use the euro have already sharply curtailed pandemic aid, and governments from Spain to Sweden plan to phase out billions of euros’ worth of subsidies more aggressively in autumn and through the end of the year.Germany recently allowed the expiration of a rule excusing firms from declaring bankruptcy if they can’t pay their bills. Debt repayment holidays for companies that took cheap government-backed loans will soon wind down in most eurozone economies.And after repeated extensions, state-backed job retention schemes, which have cost European Union countries over €540 billion, are set to end in September in Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland, and become less generous in neighboring countries in all but the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors.Aid programs that helped cushion income losses for 60 million people at the height of the crisis continue to pay for millions of workers on standby. Businesses and the self-employed have access to billions in low-interest loans, state-funded grants and tax holidays.Meanwhile, employees have begun returning to offices, shops and factory floors. Global automakers are working to adapt to supply-chain issues. Small retailers are offering click-and-collect sales, and cafes are providing takeout service.Governments are betting that the growth momentum will be enough to wean their economies off life support.“We can’t use public money to make up for losses in the private sector forever,” said Guntram Wolff, the director of Bruegel, an economic research institution based in Brussels. “That’s why we need to find a strategy for exiting.”Governments are looking to reallocate more spending toward areas of the economy that promise future growth.“It’s crucial to shift spending towards sectors that will outlast the pandemic,” said Denis Ferrand, the director of Rexecode, a French economic research organization. “We need to accelerate a transformation in digitalization, energy and the environment.”But swaths of workers risk losing their jobs when the income support is withdrawn, especially in the hospitality and travel industries, which continue to operate at up to 70 percent below prepandemic levels. The transition is likely to be painful for many.Diners in London last week. The Bank of England expects about a quarter of a million people to lose their jobs when Britain’s furlough program ends next month.Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIn Britain, a furlough program that has saved 12 million jobs since the start of the pandemic today keeps fewer than two million workers on standby support. But after the scheme ends in September, around a quarter of a million people are likely to lose their jobs, the Bank of England has forecast.“A significant fraction of people coming off furlough and not being rehired will find themselves facing very large drops of income,” said Tom Waters, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.Small businesses that wouldn’t have made it through the crisis without government assistance are now calculating how to stay on their feet without it..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Fabien Meaudre, who runs an artisanal soap boutique in central Paris, got over €10,000 in grants and a state-backed loan that allowed him to stay afloat during and after the three national lockdowns imposed in France since the pandemic hit.Now that his store is reopened, business is starting to get back to normal. “But there are no tourists, and it’s very calm,” he said.“We are very grateful for the aid we received,” Mr. Meaudre added. “But we know we will have to pay this money back.”Mr. Macron, who promised to steer Europe’s second-largest economy through Covid “no matter the cost,” is leading other countries in trying to push for a tipping point where the lockdowns that required massive government support become less and less necessary.But the Delta variant is upending even the most carefully calibrated efforts to keep economies open.In the Netherlands, where half the population is fully inoculated, the government recently reinstated some Covid restrictions days after lifting them, after Delta cases spiked.Spain and Portugal have been reeling from hotel cancellations as the variant spread in vacation hot spots that desperately need an economic boost. The Greek party island of Mykonos even banned music temporarily to stop large gatherings, sending tourists fleeing and creating fresh misery for businesses counting on a recovery.Moviegoers in France must present a “health pass” to enter the theater, which an industry group says has reduced the number of moviegoers.Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Associated PressAnd in France, trade organizations representing cinemas and sports venues are worried that Mr. Macron’s new requirement that people carry a so-called health pass — proving vaccination, a negative test or a recent Covid recovery — to get into crowded spaces is already killing a budding recovery.Some big movie halls lost up to 90 percent of customers from one day to the next when the health pass requirement went into effect this week, said Marc-Olivier Sebbag, a representative for the National Federation of French Cinemas. “It’s a catastrophe,” he said.Such precariousness helps explain why some officials are wary of letting the support expire entirely, and economists say governments are likely to have to keep spending, albeit at lower levels, well beyond when they had hoped to wind down.Withdrawing aid is “totally justified if there’s a rapid recovery,” Benoît Coeuré, a former European Central Bank governor and head of the French government panel assessing pandemic spending, told journalists last week.“But there is still uncertainty, and if the rebound doesn’t come or if it’s weaker than expected,” he said, “we’ll need to pace the removal of support.”Jack Ewing More

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    Employers Offer Incentives for Job Applicants

    Employers are finding ways to get applicants in the door, and to retain employees once they’re hired.College subsidies for children and spouses. Free rooms for summer hotel employees and a set of knives for aspiring culinary workers. And appetizers on the house for anyone willing to sit down for a restaurant job interview.Determined to lure new employees and retain existing ones in a suddenly hot job market, employers are turning to new incentives that go beyond traditional monetary rewards. In some cases, the offerings include the potential to reshape career paths, like college scholarships and guaranteed admission to management training programs.Despite an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent in May, the sudden reopening of vast swaths of the economy has left companies scrambling for workers as summer approaches, especially in the service sector. What’s more, in many cases the inducements are on top of increases in hourly pay.The result is a cornucopia of new benefits as human resources officers and employees alike rethink what makes for a compelling compensation package. And in a pathbreaking move, some businesses are extending educational benefits to families of employees.The labor market was relatively tight before the pandemic stuck in early 2020, with an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, but the rise of noncash offerings is a new wrinkle. Many large companies find themselves pitted against other giants in the search for workers with similar types of skills and experience and want to stand out, especially in the rush to staff back up after the pandemic.“We knew we had to do something radically different to make Waste Management attractive when you have other companies looking for the same type of worker,” said Tamla Oates-Forney, chief people officer at Waste Management. “There is such a war for talent that compensation isn’t a differentiator.”“You can never have too many drivers,” she said. “When you think about Amazon and Walmart, we’re going after the same population.”The company will pay for employees to earn bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as certificates in areas like data analytics and business management. In a significant expansion, Waste Management will begin offering these scholarships to spouses and children of workers this year for enrollment in January.“We can do something that really changes people’s lives,” said Jim Fish, Waste Management’s chief executive. “For someone with kids in high school, this is a big deal.”JBS USA, the nation’s largest meatpacker, began offering to pay for college degrees for its 66,000 workers as well as one child per employee in March. The move followed an increase of more than 30 percent in hourly pay over the last year, said Chris Gaddis, head of human resources at JBS USA.At large beef processing plants, floor workers earn $21 an hour, with salaries rising to $30 an hour for employees with more advanced skills. “We’re seeing a lot more innovation both in terms of wages and secondary incentives, but nobody is doing what we’re doing in terms of rural America,” Mr. Gaddis said.The educational incentives at JBS and Waste Management are designed both to reduce turnover and to attract new employees. Each company fully pays tuition at a selected group of institutions; the JBS program offers a wider variety of majors and certificates. With dependents covered for schooling, careers can stretch from years to decades instead.Each time an hourly employee leaves Waste Management, it costs a minimum of $12,000 to search for and hire a replacement, Mr. Fish said. What’s more, among drivers, 50 percent of safety incidents involve those with three years or less on the job.“In terms of safety, the longer you are here, the better you are,” Mr. Fish said. And by paying for education, he added, “there is a real hook.” Waste Management estimates the cost will be $5 million to $10 million for the first year of the employee program.In the wake of the pandemic, employers are thinking more holistically about their employees and their goals, including personal and family life, said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. Extending the benefits to spouses and children seeks to address those considerations.“You can’t hide your family life,” Ms. Konkel said. “Everybody has had to wildly change what they’ve done the last 15 months.”As generous as the incentives may seem, they can be cheaper than across-the-board pay raises, said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist with the career site Glassdoor. Still, he said, “committing to a new benefit program is a pretty significant move and signals a longer-term commitment than coupons or one-time bonuses.”Nataly Mendoza Yanez joined JBS four and a half years ago as a production floor employee in Tolleson, Ariz., before moving to the human resources department. With help from the company, she is planning to study international business at nearby Glendale Community College in August.“It feels like the opportunity fell from the sky,” said Ms. Mendoza Yanez, who hopes to work for JBS’s unit in Australia one day. “I’m really excited about it. I was going to go back to school, but it’s pricey.”Nataly Mendoza Yanez, who works for JBS in Tolleson, Ariz., plans to use the company’s help to attend a community college.Caitlin O’Hara for The New York TimesThe competition for new hires is especially intense in the leisure and hospitality industry, which has surged back to life after shutting down almost completely last spring.Applebee’s is seeking to hire 10,000 people this summer and announced last month that it would hand out vouchers for a free appetizer to anyone who scheduled an interview. Hoping for 10,000 applicants, the restaurant chain got 40,000 as a result of the offer, said John Cywinski, Applebee’s president.“Our No. 1-selling category is appetizers, so we decided to offer an app for an app,” Mr. Cywinski said. “I’ve got guests coming back in droves, but I don’t have all the team members I’d like.”To attract workers this summer, Omni Hotels & Resorts is offering a range of incentives, including free hotel rooms for summer employees at some properties, as well as guaranteed entrance into the company’s management training program for staff members who stay through Labor Day. New employees will also receive three free nights at the Omni hotel of their choice.“We have put aside guest rooms in our hotels so employees wouldn’t need to worry about where they would live so they could take this job,” said Joy Rothschild, Omni’s chief human resources officer. “We have never taken guest rooms out of inventory for housing before.”Members of the culinary team will get a free set of knives, and weekly sit-downs with the executive chef in the kitchen where they work so they can tap the chef’s expertise.“We needed to do something to grab the attention of culinary students,” Ms. Rothschild said. “I’ve seen a lot of people offering monetary incentives, but we didn’t feel that was enough. The college students coming want something more than the paycheck.”Not that cash has gone completely out of style — all of Omni’s summer hires get a $250 signing bonus plus a $500 retention bonus at the end of the season.Omni has also raised pay and created new tiers in some jobs based on experience. Entry-level housekeepers earn $16 an hour at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, while those with more than two years’ experience now come in at $17 an hour.Chuck E. Cheese, the family entertainment center chain, is hiring 5,000 employees this summer and recently expanded its scholarship program. It is also offering employees $1,500 bonuses when they refer managers.Ms. Rothschild believes that the additional incentives are needed to fill the ranks. If anything, she added, new ones are on the way.“I don’t think we’re done with incentives,” she said. “We want to see how much traction we get with these, but I suspect we will be coming out with more.” More

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    Jobs Report March 2021: Gain of 916,000 as Recovery Sped Up

    The gain of 916,000 was the biggest since August, and unemployment fell to 6 percent. Barring a setback in fighting the virus, the outlook is bullish.The American job market roared back to life in March — and with vaccinations accelerating, businesses reopening and federal aid flowing, the rebound should only get stronger from here.U.S. employers added 916,000 jobs last month, twice as many as in February and the most since August, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, its lowest level since the coronavirus pandemic began, and nearly 350,000 people rejoined the labor force.The data was collected early in the month, before most states broadened vaccine access and before most Americans began receiving $1,400 checks as part of the latest federal relief package. It was also before the recent rise in virus cases, which economists warned could slow the recovery if it worsened. But on balance, forecasters are optimistic that hiring will remain strong in coming months.“March’s jobs report is the most optimistic report since the pandemic began,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist for the career site Glassdoor. “It’s not the largest gain in payrolls since the pandemic began, but it’s the first where it seems like the finish line is in sight.”Job growth picked up last monthCumulative change in all jobs since before the pandemic More

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    March 2021 Jobs Report: A Gain of 916,000

    The U.S. jobs rebound picked up steam last month, fueled by the accelerating pace of vaccinations and a new injection of federal aid.Employers added 916,000 jobs in March, up from 416,000 in February and the most since August, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, down from 6.2 percent in February.The report came one year after the pandemic ripped a hole in the American labor market. The U.S. economy lost 1.7 million jobs in March 2020 and more than 20 million in April, when the unemployment rate peaked at nearly 15 percent.The job market bounced back quickly at first, but progress began to slow as virus cases surged and states reimposed restrictions on businesses. Over the winter, the recovery stalled out, with employers cutting more than 300,000 jobs in December.Economists said the latest data marked a turning point. Last month was the third straight month of accelerating hiring, and even bigger gains are likely in the months ahead. The March data was collected early in the month, before most states broadened vaccine access and before most Americans began receiving $1,400 checks from the federal government as part of the most recent relief package.“The tide is turning,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America. The report, she said, “reaffirms this idea that the economy is accelerating meaningfully in the spring.”The United States still has millions fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic. Even if employers kept hiring at the pace they did in March, it would take months to fill the gap. And the virus remains a risk. Coronavirus cases are rising again in much of the country as states have begun easing restrictions. If that trend turns into a full-blown new wave of infections, it could force some states to backpedal, impeding the recovery.But few economists expect a repeat of the winter, when a spike in Covid-19 cases pushed the recovery into reverse. More than a quarter of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than two million people a day are being inoculated. That should allow economic activity to continue to rebound.“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.” More

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    Unemployment Claims Up a Bit; Manufacturing Gains

    Unemployment claims increased slightly last week, but remained near pandemic lows. A manufacturing index rose sharply.A year after they first rocketed upward, jobless claims may finally be returning to earth.More than 714,000 people filed for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was up slightly from the week before, but still among the lowest weekly totals since the pandemic began.In addition, 237,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers people who don’t qualify for state benefits programs. That number, too, has been falling.Jobless claims remain high by historical standards, and are far above the norm before the pandemic, when around 200,000 people a week were filing for benefits. Applications have improved only gradually — even after the recent declines, the weekly figure is modestly below where it was last fall. Some 18 million people in total are receiving jobless assistance, many of them through programs that extend benefits beyond the 26 weeks that are offered in most states.But economists are optimistic that further improvement is ahead as the vaccine rollout accelerates and more states lift restrictions on business activity. Fewer companies are laying off workers, and hiring has picked up, meaning that people who lose their jobs are more likely to find new ones quickly.“We could actually finally see the jobless claims numbers come down because there’s enough job creation to offset the layoffs,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the job site ZipRecruiter.There are other signs that the economic recovery is gaining momentum. The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its manufacturing index, a closely watched measure of the industrial economy, hit its highest level since 1983 in March. The report’s employment index also rose strongly, a sign that manufacturers are likely to step up hiring to meet rising demand.Economists will get a more complete, albeit less timely, picture of the job market on Friday, when the Labor Department releases data on hiring and unemployment in March. Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show that U.S. employers added more than 600,000 jobs last month, the most since October.Even better numbers probably lie ahead. The March data was collected early in the month, before most states broadened vaccine access and before most Americans began receiving $1,400 checks from the federal government as part of the newly passed relief package. Those forces should lead to even faster job growth in April, said Jay Bryson, chief economist for Wells Fargo.“If you don’t get a barnburner in March, I think you’re probably going to get one in April,” he said.The biggest risk to the economy is as it has been for the last year: the coronavirus itself. Virus cases are rising again in much of the country as states have begun easing restrictions. If that upward trend turns into a full-blown new wave of infections, it could force some states to reverse course, which could act as a brake on the recovery, Mr. Bryson warned.But few economists expect a repeat of last winter, when a jump in Covid-19 cases pushed the recovery into reverse. More than a quarter of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than two million people a day are being inoculated. That should allow economic activity to continue to rebound.Still, Ms. Pollak cautioned that the job market would not return to normal overnight. Even as many companies resume normal operations, others are discovering that the pandemic has permanently disrupted their business model.“There are still a lot of business closures and a lot of layoffs that have yet to happen,” she said. “The repercussions of this pandemic are still rippling through this economy.” More