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Unemployment Drops Again in Latest Jobs Report, Though New COVID-19 Wave Raises Concerns

  • Job growth beats projections in October as unemployment rate falls to 6.9 percent
  • Increases in sectors like manufacturing and construction offset government job cuts
  • Concerns that rising COVID-19 cases could hinder slow recovery in labor market

Employers in the United States added a net total of 638,000 jobs in October, with the unemployment rate falling from 7.9 percent in September to 6.9 percent. While the tally beat projections by Dow Jones economists, who expected 530,000 new jobs and a 7.7 percent unemployment rate, it also marked the fourth consecutive month where job creation has slowed.

Overall job creation by private employers in October stood at 906,000, above September’s level of 892,000. These included 272,000 in leisure and hospitality and 192,000 at restaurants and bars, both sectors hit hard at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Professional and business services added 208,000 jobs, while seasonal positions contributed to 102,000 positions in retail. Manufacturing and construction also showed strong growth, with 38,000 jobs added at factories and 84,000 in construction.

Government jobs fell by 268,000, with the termination of temporary Census Bureau positions making up 147,000 of these positions. State and local governments cut 159,000 education jobs.

While women have been more likely to leave their jobs or consider doing so during the pandemic, they were rejoining the labor force at twice the rate of men in the latest jobs report. Current trends put the U.S. on track for full recovery by February 2022, a faster pace than the Great Recession recovery that took more than five years.

However, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases heading into the winter has generated concerns that the labor recovery could be further slowed. The U.S. recently saw a record 120,000 new cases in one day, and the Federal Reserve has urged more fiscal stimulus to help shore up the economy.

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