September 4, 2020

U.S. Added 1.4 Million Jobs in August

[The New York Times]

After taking the heaviest employment hit, women make a sharp rebound.

Black unemployment rates are higher than those for other demographics

Unemployment rates by race for menwomen and over all

The pandemic-induced downturn sent the unemployment rate for women skyrocketing, but the figure is also falling relatively quickly as business lockdowns ease and the job market recovers.

The unemployment rate for women 16 or older declined to 8.6 percent in August, a report from the Labor Department showed, down from 16.2 percent at its peak in April. Women have staged a faster rebound than men, albeit from much worse levels.

Male unemployment fell to 8.3 percent in August, down from 13.5 percent in April. Women’s joblessness remains 5.2 percentage points above February levels, while male joblessness is about 4.7 percentage points higher than it was before the crisis.

Women have staged a faster rebound than men, albeit from much worse levels.
Women have staged a faster rebound than men, albeit from much worse levels. Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Along other demographic lines, people of color continue to face a worse job-market impact from the pandemic recession than their white counterparts. The unemployment rate for Black workers remains the highest among large racial groups at 13 percent, which up from 5.8 percent in February. Asian workers have seen a particularly large sustained unemployment hit: Their jobless rate is now 10.7 percent, up from 2.5 percent before lockdowns started.

For Hispanic and Latino employees, unemployment fell to 10.5 percent in August, up from 4.4 percent in February. And for white workers, it eased to 7.3 percent in August, up from 3.1 percent before the crisis.

— Jeanna Smialek

August’s slowdown in job growth spanned many industries.

Some industries are approaching pre-pandemic employment, but leisure and hospitality jobs are lagging far behind

By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Signs of a slowing recovery were seen across industries in the jobs data released by the Labor Department on Friday. The construction sector is fewer than half a million jobs short of its level before the pandemic, but only 16,000 construction jobs were added in August.

The leisure and hospitality sector, which had the worst job losses in March and April, is still 4.1 million jobs below where it was in February and gained only 174,000 jobs in August, significantly fewer than the more than 600,000 it gained in July.

Similarly, jobs in education and health increased by almost 150,000 in August as schools began to reopen across the country, but that number was still lower than the prior month’s gains. Manufacturing followed the same pattern — gaining jobs, but at a slower rate.

The retail and business services sectors saw bigger gains in August than July, though both are still below their February employment levels.

— Ella Koeze

The U.S. added 1.4 million jobs in August as unemployment fell to 8.4 percent.

Employers continued to bring back furloughed workers last month, but at a far slower pace than in the spring, and millions of Americans remain out of work.

The U.S. economy added 1.4 million jobs in August, the Labor Department said Friday, down from 1.7 million in July and down sharply from the 4.8 million added in June. Payrolls are still more than 11 million jobs below their pre-pandemic level.

Jobs have recovered somewhat, but are still far below pre-pandemic levels

By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent, down significantly from 14.7 percent in April and 10.2 percent in July. The drop brings the rate below the peak of the last recession a decade ago, when unemployment briefly hit 10 percent, but joblessness is still higher than the peak of many past recessions.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist for S&P Global.

By Ella Koeze·Unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The figure for August job growth was buoyed by the hiring of close to 240,000 temporary workers for the 2020 census, most of whom will be laid off when census canvassing ends later this month. Private-sector payrolls, which were not affected by the census hires, rose by one million in August, down from 1.5 million in July.

The report on Friday provides some of the first clear data on the state of the economy as emergency federal spending winds down, including a $600 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits that helped keep many households afloat early in the pandemic. Economists warn that without that supplement, which expired at the end of July, millions of families will struggle to pay rent and buy food, reining in the broader economy.

But because the August jobs data was collected early in the month, it may not reflect the full impact of the loss of benefits, economists warn. That quirk of the calendar could have political ramifications: The relatively solid jobs report could ease pressure on Congress to agree on a new round of emergency spending.

“If the labor market data continue to hold, if we don’t see a big destruction to consumer spending on the back of the loss of the unemployment benefits, that reduces the sense of urgency that something needs to be done prior to the election,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics for Bank of America.

Economists warn that would set the stage for a big drop in spending in the fall, leading to more job losses and a wave of small-business failures. Already, major corporations such as American Airlines have announced they are laying off more workers or, as in the case of the department store stalwart Lord & Taylor, going out of business entirely.

“I am more concerned about where the economy is now than I was in April,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative. “In April, it was fixable. We’re just letting the scars build up now.”

— Ben Casselman

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