Strong job gains in March keep a blaze under the recovery

The Lobby, a brunch-focused restaurant housed in a tall but cozy late 19th-century building in downtown Denver, almost went out of business in 2020 before being largely bailed out by federal emergency small business assistance. Now, on any given weekend, it offers the sights, smells, and sounds of an economic revival beginning to feel fully at ease: a full house of guests chatting and leaning in in a way that was before June 18 months was unimaginable.

The restaurant’s co-owner, Christian Batizy, is optimistic about his business and the local economy overall. “We’re probably 25 percent up from our best year right now,” said Mr. Batizy, who opened the 2009 spot.

“Those of us that have made it through the pandemic have come out into an economy where people are a little more willing to spend,” he said, adding, “The gap between restaurant prices and cooking at home is closing to have gone up so much with grocery store prices.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of home groceries has risen faster than the cost of restaurants over the past year.

Consumer prices, which rose 7.9 percent in the 12 months to February, the sharpest rise since 1982, have been deeply politicized. Republicans blame Mr. Biden for rising prices, a message likely to intensify as the midterm elections loom.

“Wages just can’t keep up with President Biden’s rampant inflation, which is accelerating,” Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement Friday. “Americans should brace themselves for even higher prices.”

Frustration with inflation despite plentiful jobs cuts across backgrounds, income levels and worldviews. Much of the hiring in the coming months “will be for low-wage contractors,” said Robert Frick, an economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. “Unfortunately, these workers are the hardest hit by high inflation, especially in essentials like gas and groceries.” Strong job gains in March keep a blaze under the recovery

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