Ball State Economist: September U.S. Jobs Report indicates large, unexpected decline

The Employment Situation Summary for September reported gains of 194,000 jobs, and a large decline in labor force participation.

“This is far lower than most models predicted, and suggests the COVID-19 pandemic continues to slow economic performance across the nation,” according to Dr. Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.

Dr. Michael Hicks

Here are more of Dr. Hicks’ takeaways from the September Jobs Report:

• The labor force losses were effectively composed entirely of women, whose levels in the workforce declined by 296,000. This is evidence that continued child care responsibilities are keeping many women out of the labor force.
• Job gains were modest, and spread across most private sectors. This differs from the august report that saw job losses concentrated in hospitality and tourism. Still, 36 percent of all unemployed workers came most recently from jobs in in retail, wholesale, hospitality and tourism sectors.
• Job losses were clustered in educational services and in healthcare, especially in long term care and specialty care facilities.
• Overall wages for production and no supervisory workers grew well in September, and are up almost five percent over the past 12 months. Some sectors have seen much sharper gains, such as leisure and hospitality which are up 12 percent for the year.
• If any more evidence were needed, it should now be clear that the end of Pandemic Unemployment benefits was not a panacea to employers. Today’s available labor is close to 5.5 million workers fewer than we would’ve expected without the pandemic. That, along with slowing demand is what is causing or moribund job growth at this point of the recovery.

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