February 2021 Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Added 379,000 Jobs

She mentioned her frustration to someone she met at work. “He called his friend, who called his stepdaughter, who called her boyfriend, who called his son, who works for the unemployment office,” she said, and he was finally able to clear up the mistake.

Ultimately, Ms. Pontia hopes to get her old position back. But “to get a job even close to what I was able to have before seems absolutely impossible until things are safer,” she said.

Fifteen hundred miles to the southwest, in San Antonio, Jordan Alaniz was hired as a bartender at a French restaurant and bar on Feb. 20. Ms. Alaniz, a 28-year-old mother of two infants, received her first Covid-19 vaccine this week. But even with the shot, she is worried about working at a bar in a state without a mask mandate after Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back the requirement.

“I’m definitely nervous about it,” said Ms. Alaniz, who previously worked at a different restaurant. “The last time they lifted our mask mandate, we actually had a Covid outbreak at the place I was working because they weren’t requiring masks there. That kind of traumatized me, and that’s why I was so adamant about getting the vaccine.”

Still, Ms. Alaniz feels lucky to have a job. She appreciates that her new workplace takes virus protocols seriously, requiring staff to wear gloves and clean the establishment regularly. The restaurant will continue to ask customers to wear masks, despite the governor’s lifting of restrictions.

The varying attitudes about risk of infection underscore why the shape of the post-pandemic economy remains uncertain even as more and more of the population is vaccinated.

Will people rush back out to restaurants, theaters, sports events and shopping malls or shift their behavior? Will workplaces crank back up to full capacity or shift to more remote work? Will business travel and conferences return to previous levels?