Back to 2020: US Job Growth Slows to a Crawl

Number of the Day: The most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance

9

The Balance

That’s how many months it’s been since job growth was worse than it was in September.

U.S. payrolls grew by 194,000 in September, the least for any month this year and less than a fifth of the monthly increase seen at the peak of growth in July, the Department of Labor said Friday. Not only was it less than half the growth economists had forecast, but it was far worse than the 366,000 payrolls (revised up Friday from 235,000) that were added in August, a month some economists hoped was a blip. We haven’t had a worse month since December, when payrolls declined by 306,000 jobs.

The fast-spreading delta variant of COVID-19 fueled a spike in daily case counts over the summer, discouraging some people from travelling and going out and forcing some local governments and businesses to reinstate restrictions to minimize the spread. Some economists attributed the September decline to the lingering effects of that summer setback as well as a lack of people to fill jobs, rather than a lack of openings.

“The return of in-person schooling was supposed to see potential workers flooding back, as was the ending of extended and uprated unemployment benefits, yet there is no sign of this happening yet,” wrote James Knightley, chief international economist at ING.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Medora at medoralee@thebalance.com.