September jobs report falls short

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – Economists had great expectations for the labor market in September as kids returned to in-person school and millions saw unemployment benefits drop. But for the second straight month, US employers added far fewer jobs than anticipated.

President Joe Biden addressed a disappointing September jobs report saying, “Our recovery is moving forward, even in the face of a COVID pandemic.”

The Labor Department said US employers added just 194,000 jobs last month.

Bankrate Washington Bureau Chief Mark Hamrick said, “The economy is still very much dramatically being affected by the pandemic in different ways.”

Public education jobs, local and state, fell during the back-to-school month.

The leisure and hospitality industry added just 74,000 jobs, still struggling to recoup more than a million pandemic-forced losses.

ADP Chief Economist Nela Richardson said, “People are less willing, I think, to work in jobs requiring close public contact.”

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent.

Despite millions of job openings, the labor participation rate barely budged. Richardson said that is a key number to watch.

“Getting people back into the labor market, whatever the bottlenecks or reasons are is going to be really important for a full recovery,” Richardson said. “Not just in the unemployment rate but an inclusive recovery that really reaches every vulnerable group.”

Hamrick said October may give a more accurate recovery snapshot: “We’ll get well past the period when the federal pandemic unemployment benefits were expiring, and there may be some transitions in people’s lives there.”

Holiday seasonal hiring will also kick into high gear.

The US is still down 5 million jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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