Ball State Economist: COVID-19’s re-emergence delivers ‘heavy blow’ to August employment numbers

INDIANA – The August U.S. Jobs Report is out, and it outlines the slowest monthly job gains of the year, says economist Dr. Michael Hicks, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.

The August report was also accompanied by revisions to earlier months that suggest a faster-growing economy in June and July than previously thought.

Dr. Michael Hicks

“The re-emergence of COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to August’s jobs numbers,” said Dr. Hicks.

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

• Job growth was clustered in the production of motor vehicle parts (24,100), transportation and warehousing (53,200), information services (17,000), professional and technical services (58,200), educational services (40,200), arts, entertainment, and recreation, (35,500), amusements, recreation and gambling (30,000), personal and laundry services (19,200) and local government (19,6000).

• Major job losses were clustered in food services and drinking places (-41,500), Accommodation (-34,900), retail trade (-28,500), and food and beverage stores (-23,200).

• Wage gains were solid, with the largest increases occurring in professional and businesses services, education and healthcare, and non-durable goods manufacturing. Wage growth in the hospitality sector slowed markedly from previous months.

• The shift of employment and wage growth from high contact sectors (restaurants, hotels, and retail settings), combing with rapidly slowing wage gains in these sectors reflect the increasing spread of COVID-19 across much of the nation.

• State-level employment reports will tell a clearer picture in the coming weeks, but it was apparent in July’s jobs report that vaccination rates played a significant role in slowing job growth across the nation. It is likely that the return of COVID will decrease both supply and demand for labor in those places where it is most severe.