July Employment Numbers: Flattening Recovery

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just posted employment numbers for July. We continue to see labor market recovery, but much more slowly than in May or June.

The employment/population ratio rose by one-half a percentage point: from 54.6 percent to 55.1. This increase is about a fourth as large as that in June. Unemployment fell from about 11 to 10 percent of the labor force. Payroll jobs rose by 1.8 million, just over a third as many as in June.

Both the household and payroll numbers indicate that about 40 percent of jobs and employment lost between February and April have returned.

The resurgence of the Covid-19 virus is clearly flattening the recovery that the labor market was enjoying in May and June. State-level employment numbers that BLS will publish later this month will no doubt show great unevenness between the states in terms of such recovery. It appears as though our return to the tight labor markets that we enjoyed through February will take years, and will be slower than we thought just a month ago.

American workers desperately need Congress to pass another stimulus and relief bill.

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