COMPANIES are hiring and unemployment is falling across most advanced economies on hopes that vaccines will eventually contain the Coronavirus.

But not every job is coming back. The pandemic has pushed out older employees and is deepening inequality as lower income workers feel the brunt of the crisis. Economists warn that there’s still a way to go before global employment is back to where it was before the pandemic.

A resurgent US job market is creating more opportunities at a faster clip than many economists and employers expected. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 916,000 in March, blowing away economists’ median estimate of a 660,000-job gain. But there are gaps. There are still nearly 2 million fewer US women in the labour force than before Covid. Black women in particular are falling behind other groups in job gains. Bloomberg Economics sees US unemployment dropping below 6 per cent in the current quarter then heading toward 5.1 per cent in the fourth quarter before falling to 4 per cent at the end of 2022.

Japan’s resilient employment is masking underlying weakness. The proportion of available jobs is still sharply down from pre-pandemic levels, reflecting weak hiring in hotels, restaurants and bars. The unemployed are outnumbered by people furloughed or on leave, and the number leaving the working force altogether is rising. Bloomberg Economics expects Japan’s jobless rate to rise to around 3 per cent in the second quarter as renewed virus-containment measures hit the services sector.