The U.S. economy added only 661,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department reported today. That’s down from an upwardly revised 1.49 million jobs added in August. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were looked for the economy to addd 859,000 jobs in September.
The official unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 7.9% from 8.4% in August. That was a bigger drop than forecast.
The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work and workers with part-time jobs who would like full-time work–fell to a seasonally adjusted 12.8% in September from 14.2% in August.
But the “improvement” came as more workers stopped looking for work–those discouraged workers don’t get included in the official unemployment count. The labor force participation rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 61.4%. The labor participation rate for women, between ages 25 and 54, fell for a third straight month, by 0.7 percentage points, compared with a 0.4-point drop among men. Economists say that, expectedly, women are taking up the biggest share of child care burdens resulting from the coronavirus and virtual learning at home.
The report showed slowing gains in sectors that had picked up lately such as retail. That points to a stall in the recovery and worse jobs reports ahead.
One of the biggest drops in the September slowdown was a 280,500 drop in the seasonally adjusted totals for state and local education jobs. That’s a result of cuts to hard-pressed state and city budgets, and a switch to virtual schooling in much of the country. In addition, federal government employment fell by the predicted 34,000 in September as the Census cut some workers that it hired in August.
The number of workers classified as long-term unemployed jumped by 781,000 to 2.4 million in September.