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Stock Market Today: Live Updates on Jobs and Consumer Spending

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Here’s what you need to know:

Recognition…Eliza Earle for the New York Times

The US labor market is ready to go – and this time few economists expect it to fall back to earth.

The Ministry of Labor will release data on hiring and unemployment in March on Friday. Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show US employers created more than 600,000 jobs in the last month, up from 379,000 in February and the most since October.

Even better numbers are probably ahead of us. The March data was collected earlier this month, before most states expanded access to vaccines and before most Americans received $ 1,400 checks from the federal government under the latest relief package. Those forces should translate into even faster job growth in April, said Jay Bryson, Wells Fargo’s chief economist.

“If you can’t get a barn burner in March, you will likely get one in April,” he said.

Like last year, the biggest risk to the economy is: the pandemic itself. Coronavirus cases are on the rise in large parts of the country as states begin to ease restrictions. If that uptrend turns into a full-blown new wave of infections, it could force some states to step down and hinder recovery, Bryson warned.

But few economists expect winter to repeat itself when a surge in virus cases reversed the recovery. More than a quarter of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than two million people are vaccinated every day. This should allow economic activity to continue to recover.

“It’s different this time, and that’s because of vaccines,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at the ZipRecruiter construction site. “It’s real this time.”

Still, it will take many months of strong growth for the labor market to return to something close to its pre-pandemic levels. The United States had roughly 9.5 million fewer jobs in February than it did in February 2020, and the gap is even wider when you factor in one year of missed job growth.

Forecasters expect the March report to show that the unemployment rate has fallen from 6.2 percent in February to 6 percent and from nearly 15 percent in April to 6 percent. However, economists caution against reading too much about the unemployment rate, which excludes millions of people who dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic, in many cases because they had to look after children while schools were closed or because they didn’t care felt safe going to work. If these people look for jobs again while the pandemic subsides – as economists hope – the official unemployment rate could be slow to recover.

“The pandemic and its aftermath have displaced so many people that short-term trends are difficult to analyze,” said Nick Bunker, research director for Indeed.

Ed Bastian, the executive director of Delta, was accused by the governor of Georgia of Recognition…Steve Marcus / Reuters

Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have been under pressure for two weeks from activists and black executives who wanted the companies to publicly oppose a new law in Georgia that makes it harder for people to vote. On Wednesday, six days after the law was passed, both companies spoke out “crystal clear” against it.

Now Republicans are mad at companies for speaking out. Hours after the companies made their statements, Republican Governor Brian Kemp targeted Ed Bastian, Delta chief executive, accusing him of “spreading the same false attacks repeated by partisan activists.” And the Republicans in the Georgian legislature had the idea of ​​raising taxes on Delta in retaliation.

On Thursday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio posted a video naming Delta and Coca-Cola and “arousing corporate hypocrites.” Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker said Coca-Cola “woke up to the left”. And Stephen Miller, an adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, said on Twitter: “Unelected multinational corporations are now openly attacking sovereign US states and the right of their citizens to secure their own elections. This is a corporate attack on democracy. “

It was another example of how difficult it is for big corporations to get into partisan politics, where any support for the left incurs the ire of the right and vice versa.

Other large corporations in Georgia have managed to stay on the sidelines. Atlanta-based UPS also failed to criticize the new law before it was passed. On Thursday, the company said it “believes that electoral laws and statutes should make it easier, not harder, for Americans to exercise their voting rights.” The law was not mentioned.

Mannequins in a Brooks Brothers warehouse in Enfield, Conn.Recognition…Amr Alfiky / The New York Times

In the wake of the Brooks Brothers bankruptcy and sale last year, the retailer left a Connecticut warehouse full of mannequins, sewing machines, and a slew of Christmas trees.

Since then, the couple who own the camp, Chip and Rosanna LaBonte, have been trying to figure out how to get rid of everything.

Junk removal companies have told them that it will cost at least $ 240,000 to clear the room Brooks Brothers rented through November, Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman report for the New York Times. In order to pay the bill, the LaBontes have to sell their house.

Recognition…Amr Alfiky / The New York Times

Brooks Brothers, which was founded in 1818 and is the oldest continuously operating apparel brand in the United States, began leasing its warehouse in Enfield in 2011, most recently at a cost of around $ 20,000 per month.

The couple bought the warehouse in 2010. They said it was their first foray into commercial real estate and they had previously worked on housing projects. They have other tenants and a self storage area but are frustrated with the clutter and the fact that they cannot use the space for other purposes until it is cleared.

The couple’s plight highlights the far-reaching consequences of retail bankruptcies that cascaded during the pandemic, affecting everyone from factory workers to executives. Smaller vendors and landlords have often held the short end of the stick during lengthy Byzantine bankruptcy proceedings, particularly with restrictions on what they can spend on legal bills compared to larger businesses. And once bankrupt brands are sold, people like the LaBontes are usually left in the dust.

Ford and Ford saw significant sales increases for individual customers at dealerships, while sales declines were reported for fleet operators.Recognition…Brittany Greeson for the New York Times

General Motors saw a slight increase in auto sales in North America in the first quarter, but operations continue to be hampered by a shortage of computer chips.

GM announced Thursday that it had sold 642,250 cars and light trucks in the first three months of the year, up just 4 percent, although sales slowed sharply a year ago when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

In contrast, Toyota Motor saw a strong increase in sales compared to the previous year. The Japanese company reported that North American sales rose 22 percent to 603,066 cars and light trucks in the first three months of 2021. Sales in March were a record high for the month.

Toyota’s big leap helped it outperform the Ford Motor, which was also hit by the semiconductor shortage. Ford’s sales rose just 1 percent to 521,334 in the first quarter. Stellantis – the company formed through the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s Peugeot SA – reported that sales in the US rose 5 percent in the first quarter.

Both Ford and GM saw significant sales increases from individual customers at dealerships, while sales declines were reported from fleet operators such as car rental companies and governments.

GM and Ford had to shut down or slow down production at a handful of plants. GM has resorted to manufacturing some vehicles with no parts using computer chips to install those components prior to sale if supply improves.

In a statement, GM hoped its strategy of building cars without some components would help “quickly meet highly anticipated customer demand later this year.”

This approach to automobile construction “underscores the dire nature” of semiconductor shortages, said Garrett Nelson, an analyst at CFRA Research, in a report. “One of the key questions is how much better the recovery in US auto sales can be from here.”

The chip shortage is reflected in GM’s unusually low inventory of 334,628 vehicles. That is around 76,000 fewer than at the end of the fourth quarter and half of the vehicles that dealers had in stock a year ago. Ford’s inventory was 56,100 lower than at the end of 2020.

GM’s weak sales were limited to the Chevrolet brand, whose sales fell 2 percent in the first quarter. This included a 13 percent drop in sales for its full-size Silverado pickup, a key profit maker for the company. Buick, Cadillac, and GMC brands had strong sales for the quarter.

Toyota also reported a drop in sales of its full-size pickup, the Tundra. However, the decline was more than offset by strong sales increases in the sport utility vehicles and cars RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner of the luxury brand Lexus.

Also on Thursday, Honda Motor announced that sales in North America rose 16 percent to 347,091 vehicles in the first quarter.

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Robert Dunfee