With only 194,000 jobs added, September jobs report disappoints
The Bureau of Labor Statistics September employment report, released last week, showed a 0.4 percentage point drop in the U.S. unemployment rate, from 5.2% in August to 4.8% in September . Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 194,000 in September, against a monthly average of 561,000, and the number of unemployed fell by 710,000.
The number of marginally tied workers increased by 167,000 and the number of discouraged workers by 58,000. The rise in marginally tied and discouraged workers suggests that the official unemployment rate underestimates the number of workers who are currently struggling to find. a job. Given this difficulty, it is not surprising that the labor force participation rate (61.6%) has remained static, with the BLS reporting that the rate has “remained in a narrow range of 61.4% to 61.7% since June 2020 “. Likewise, the number of part-time workers for economic reasons (4.5 million), i.e. workers who would like to be full-time but whose hours have been reduced or who cannot find a job. full-time employment, remained largely unchanged from last year. month. Finally, the number of people currently inactive but eager for a job (6 million) also remained largely unchanged.
These disappointing jobs figures further underscore the mistake of ending the expanded unemployment insurance program. Contrary to the forecasts made by supporters of this measure, the reduction in assistance to the unemployed has not resulted in a substantial increase in employment. This is because there are simply not enough jobs currently available, whether due to continued supply chain disruptions in production, the impact of the Delta variant on the demand for customer services. consumers or various other factors.
Table 1 shows the unemployment rate by race for the three-month period between July and September. The three-month average unemployment rate for black workers, 8.3%, although significantly higher than the U.S. unemployment rate, fell as unemployment fell between August and September. Smaller declines were recorded by workers of other races and ethnicities.
Table 1. Unemployment rate by race, July 2021 to September 2021
Table 2 shows the unemployment rate in the United States by race, sex and age from September 2020 to September 2021. When age and race are taken into account, we continue to see that black teens aged 16 to 19 year-olds had the highest unemployment rate during the 13-month period, 17.64%. However, in September, the highest unemployment rate, 17.4%, was recorded by Latino or Hispanic adolescents. The participation rate for this group fell from 31.3% in August to 32% in September.
Table 2. Unemployment rate in the United States by race, sex and age, September 2020 to September 2021
President Biden on Friday touted steady progress, widespread improvement and an increase in employment in the first eight months of his presidency. The president pointed out that the unemployment rate for black workers in September was below 8% for the first time in 17 months. However, the unemployment rate for black workers remains 3.1 percentage points above the national average and 1.9 percentage points above its February 2020 level. There is still room for improvement in the recovery to bring black workers back to their pre-pandemic employment levels. . But the goal should not be just a return to pre-pandemic employment levels, historically above the national average. The goal should be to change the dynamics of work and end the systemic and structural racism and discrimination that has led to the racial disparities in employment that we see today.
President Biden also discussed the salary increase. Real average hourly earnings rose 0.4% between July and August. According to research from the Pew Research Center, despite the severity of the economic shock created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the incomes of salaried workers as a whole have not been affected in part because low-wage workers have suffered hardships. greater job losses. Research by our colleagues at the Brookings Institution found that “pandemic-induced job losses hit low-wage workers much harder than those with higher wages” and “low-wage jobs have been the slowest to return. The president highlighted the decrease in COVID-19 cases towards the end of September and the continued progress of the recovery. As immunization rates rise and hospitalizations decline, more needs to be done to get Americans back to work, end the pandemic and tackle the racial employment gap.