US economy added 1.8 million jobs in July, unemployment still more than 2009 Great Recession

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WASHINGTON D.C. — The US economy added another 1.8 million jobs in July, a sharp slowdown from June and a small step for an economy that’s still down 12.9 million jobs during the pandemic.

It was the third-straight month of improvement after the spring lockdown that decimated the labor market. But the economy last month added far fewer than the 4.8 million jobs that America added in June.

The unemployment rate fell to 10.2%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, but remains above the Great Recession high of 10% that was reached in October 2009.

Since the pandemic hit, the government has struggled to count the enormous number of people who are out of work. That’s in part because it has been increasingly difficult for workers themselves to discern whether they have been temporarily laid off or employed but not at work.

The share of misclassified responses was smaller in June and July than in the months before, the BLS said. Including the misclassified workers, the July unemployment rate would have been about one percentage point higher than reported.

The reopening of the economy and a resurgence in Covid-19 infections in some states, paired with business and individuals running out of federal aid, has created a unique set of conditions for the jobs market.

survey from Cornell University showed that 31% of workers who were recently rehired have lost their jobs for a second time during the pandemic. Another 26% have been told that they might get laid off again.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said states with more Covid cases since June also registered the weakest employment recovery. This was most notably true for Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Friday’s jobs report comes during tense times in Washington, as Republicans and Democrats are butting heads over the next stimulus bill. One point of contention is the government’s boost of unemployment benefits. The CARES act provided a weekly boost of $600 to regular jobless aid. But this provision ran out on July 31.

Now Congress is arguing about how to proceed: Democrats want to keep the $600 weekly supplement for the rest of the year, while Republicans want to cut it to $400 a week. Some economists believe that too much unemployment aid actually keeps people from returning to work. The question is what is too much aid during an economic crisis of unprecedented proportions.

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