WASHINGTON — A much-awaited economic boom coming off the pandemic recession appeared to edge closer to reality Thursday with fresh data showing the pace of layoffs dwindling, consumers spending freely and manufacturing rebounding.
The latest barometers point to a U.S. economy that’s steadily regaining its health as vaccinations accelerate, business curbs are lifted in many states and more people are willing to travel, shop, eat out and otherwise resume their spending habits. Though many Americans who have lost jobs or income are still suffering, hopes are rising that the benefits of the recovery will spread further in the coming months to groups of people who have yet to benefit.
And sales at retail stores and restaurants jumped 9.8% in March, the biggest gain since last May, when the economy first started to rebound from the virus’ initial blow. With U.S. household savings high, economists are optimistic that the faster spending is sustainable.
Wall Street responded to the encouraging news by notching more milestones Thursday, as a broad market rally pushed the S&P 500 to an all-time high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed above the 34,000 mark for the first time.