US August Job Gains Fall Far Short of Expectations
U.S. employers added only 235,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday, a sign the pace of hiring has slowed considerably at a time when the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has dampened business activity.
The report fell far short of economists’ expectations of about 750,000 new jobs last month. Last month’s 235,000 new jobs were also far fewer than the 943,000 jobs added in July and the 938,000 new hires in June.
The August unemployment rate declined to 5.2% from 5.4% the month before. The 5.2% rate is still higher than before the pandemic started.
Despite increases in U.S. vaccination rates that have allowed business to loosen pandemic restrictions, the number of job vacancies remain at record high levels.
In all, the U.S. lost about 22 million jobs in the early months of the pandemic and now has recovered 16.7 million of them.
The size of the economy — nearly $23 trillion — now exceeds its pre-pandemic level as it recovers faster than many economists had predicted during the worst of the business closings more than a year ago.
How fast the growth continues is an open question.
For months, the national government has sent an extra $300 a week in unemployment compensation, on top of state aid, to jobless workers. But that extra assistance is ending throughout the country on Saturday, although Republican governors in 25 states had already terminated it early. About 7.5 million jobless workers will be affected by the cutoff in extra funding.
The national unemployment aid helped many jobless workers pay household bills through the worst of last year’s economic downturn during the pandemic, but also put new money into the economy.