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U.S. Posts Another Month of Slow Jobs Growth, With Just 194,000 New Positions Added

  • U.S. economy adds 194,000 jobs in September, while unemployment rate falls to 4.8 percent
  • Hiring likely slowed as the Delta variant drove a new surge in COVID-19 infections
  • Leisure and hospitality sector continues to post the most new jobs, but hiring in the food and beverage sector showed little change after strong gains earlier this year

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The United States experienced weak jobs growth in September as leisure and hospitality hiring slowed and the education sector shed thousands of positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly report.

A total of 194,000 nonfarm payrolls were added in September. This follows an upwardly revised but still modest addition of 366,000 jobs in August and a strong gain of 1.09 million jobs in July. The slowdown in hiring is likely associated with a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the virus’s Delta variant, raising the possibility of stronger hiring in the fall.

The U.S. economy has regained 17.4 million jobs since April 2020, when employees cut millions of positions amid the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. However, jobs are still down by 5 million, or 3.3 percent, compared to February 2020.

  • The leisure and hospitality sector continued to lead jobs growth, but posted just 74,000 jobs; the sector is still down 9.4 percent, or 1.6 million jobs, from pre-pandemic levels
  • After averaging 197,000 new jobs a month between January and July, the food and beverage industry showed little change between August and September
  • The others sectors leading jobs growth included professional and business growth (up 60,000), retail (up 56,000), and transportation and warehousing (up 47,000)
  • Education hiring was lower than usual in September, with the sector down 144,000 jobs in local government education, 19,000 in private education, and 17,000 in state government education
  • The education sector as a whole is down 676,000 jobs compared to February 2020
  • The unemployment rate fell 0.4 points to 4.8 percent, though this was likely driven in part by people leaving the labor force entirely
  • Earnings continued to climb as employers raised compensation to attract workers; September’s average hourly wage was $30.85, up 19 cents from August

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