The economic rebound from massive job losses due to the Coronavirus slowed down last month as the U.S. economy added back 661,000 jobs in September, cutting the nation’s unemployment rate to 7.9 percent, but also marking the smallest month of job growth since the nation tried to start re-opening in May.
The September figures mean 11.4 million jobs have been added to the economy in the past five months - but that is only a little bit more than half of the over 22 million jobs which were lost in March and April.
While 661,000 people returned to work, almost 700,000 people got out of the job market entirely and gave up looking for a job, shrinking the size of the labor force in September.
“In September, the number of permanent job losers increased by 345,000 to 3.8 million,” the Labor Department reported, “this measure has risen by 2.5 million since February.”
“This is a very troubling trend,” said Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center. "We knew from the start that the 2nd “half” of this recovery was going to be much tougher than the first."
Jason Furman, a top economic official in the Obama White House tweeted that “everything is continuing to improve but it improving at a slower pace than before.”
The U6 rate - considered the broadest measure of unemployment - fell again in September, dropping to 12.8 percent. It reached 22.8 percent in April.
The jobless rate began the year at 3.6 percent in January, jumped to 14.7 percent in April, and has dropped almost 7 percentage points now to 7.9 percent.
But economists uniformly say there is much more to do help Americans who have lost their jobs and aren’t going back to work anytime soon.
Unlike recent months where the President hailed the latest economic recovery numbers, the White House was quiet on Friday morning about new jobs report, dealing with the monumental news that the President and First Lady had both tested positive for the Coronavirus.