Employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, nudging the unemployment rate down to 8.4%, the first single-digit reading since March.
The jobs gains, reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are a decline from the 1.8 million added in July, marking the second month in a row that gains have dropped – a sign that the labor market’s recovery from the pandemic-induced recession has slowed since getting an initial boost in late spring and early summer after lockdown orders were lifted. A surge this summer in coronavirus cases around the county also paused reopening plans and affected consumer behavior.
The payroll gains were in line with expectations, as economists predicted a gain of nearly 1.4 million jobs last month, though estimates varied widely. Employment in government increased by 344,000 last month, accounting for one-fourth of the monthly gain. Notable gains also occurred in retail, which added 249,000 jobs in August.
The unemployment rate is a decrease from July’s 10.2% and beat analysts’ predictions. The jobless rate peaked in April at a staggering 14.7% and has fallen every month since.
The jobs report comes as Congress and the White House remain deadlocked over another coronavirus stimulus package.
Of the jobs added last month, 197,000 came in the professional and business services. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector also saw gains, jumping by 174,000, while the education and health services sector added 147,000 jobs.
The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect women and minorities. The unemployment rate among white workers sat at 7.3% last month, while the rate among Black workers was 13%. Among Hispanics, the rate was 10.5%.
The unemployment rate for men was 8%, while 8.4% of women were unemployed.
In contrast, the stock market has performed well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed over 29,000 earlier in the week for the first time since February. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq have both set records.
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