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Economy & Jobs

September Jobs Report Shows American Grit

3 minute read

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment situation report. In September, the United States added 661,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent.

In the last five months, 52 percent of the job losses from the pandemic have been recovered, and the United States has gained more than 11.4 million jobs, including a combined upward revision in July and August of 145,000 jobs. Although this year has not been easy, the grit of the American worker has not wavered, and we are in the midst of the fastest economic recovery in American history.

Since the recovery began in May, job gains have been concentrated in low-earning industries, which employ a large portion of minorities as well as those without college degrees, such as retail trade and leisure and hospitality. While the losses in these sectors were the steepest, swift, targeted action to keep workers connected to their employers has been a catalyst to recovery. Every private sector industry posted job gains for September, and leisure and hospitality and retail trade increased the most with gains of 318,000 and 142,000, respectively.

In fact, 51 percent of all job losses from February to April occurred in either the leisure and hospitality industry or the retail trade industry, which have average hourly wages below the national average. Since then, more than 4.5 million jobs have returned in the leisure and hospitality sector and nearly 1.9 million jobs have returned in the retail trade sector. These, in conjunction with the education and health services sector, which added 40,000 jobs in September, account for 68 percent of job gains since April.

Blue-collar workers have experienced strong recoveries in recent months as expansions continue in the manufacturing and construction industries. Since their losses through April, manufacturing has recovered more than half of its losses, while construction has rebounded by two-thirds with combined gains of more than 1.4 million jobs. This Administration remains committed to workers previously left on the margin.

Wages for manufacturing production and nonsupervisory employees grew more than 1.6 times faster during President Trump’s expansion period (2.8 percent) than during former President Obama’s expansion period (1.7 percent). As these workers experience the aftermath of the pandemic lockdowns, Trump Administration policies such as the Paycheck Protection Program supported roughly 4.3 million manufacturing jobs and 238,000 manufacturing establishments, paving the way for the current strength of their recovery.

Although still elevated, unemployment rates fell for all minorities and historically disadvantaged Americans. Since April, the Hispanic unemployment rate has fallen by 8.6 percentage points, Asian-American unemployment by 5.6 percentage points, and Black American unemployment by 4.6 percentage points. Similarly, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high-school diploma has decreased by 10.6 percentage points, while that of high-school graduates with no college education has fallen by 8.3 percentage points in five months.

The recovery has been historically unprecedented. Over the past five months, the unemployment rate has fallen by 6.8 percentage points. The last time the unemployment rate fell this much following its peak occurred between 1982 and 1999 following the global oil crisis, requiring almost 18 years, five presidential terms, and three administrations. The recovery the United States is witnessing now is almost 41 times faster than that. In fact, just a few months ago, every forecaster expected that 2020 would end with an unemployment rate far above 7.9 percent. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in July that the unemployment rate in December would be 10.5 percent, while the Blue Chip consensus and the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve projected a rate of 9.3 percent. Time after time, the economy under President Trump pushes Americans to achieve the impossible.