United States added 235,000 jobs in August, a marked slowdown – NY Times

United States added 235,000 jobs in August, a marked slowdown - NY Times

Last month, the US economy slowed down adding 235,000 jobs, a sharp drop from the huge gains recorded earlier in the summer and an indication that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is putting a damper on hiring.

The Labor Department report on Friday follows a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and deaths that has undermined hopes that restrictions on daily activities were nearing an end.

The unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, compared with 5.4 percent in July. Economists polled by Bloomberg has been looking for gain of 725,000 jobs.

“Delta is a game-changer,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, an accounting firm in Chicago. “It’s not that people are laying off workers in reaction to Delta but people are pulling back on travel and tourism and going out to eat and that has consequences.”

Restaurant reservations on OpenTable were close to normal levels earlier in the summer, but are now 10 percent below where they were before the pandemic. There has also been a sharp decline in hours worked at restaurants and entertainment venues, according to data from Homebase, which provides time-management software to small businesses.

The Labor Department data was collected in the second week of August, so it may not reflect the full extent of the Delta spread or the impact of Hurricanes Henri and Ida in the second half of the month.

Although many experts expect economic growth to dip in the current quarter from the annualized rate of 6.5 percent in the spring, the economy remains healthy overall. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs recently cut their estimates for growth, but the economy is expected to remain in expansion mode for the rest of the year.

Gross domestic product has regained the ground lost in the pandemic. The housing market is robust, and Wall Street has been notching records as corporate results remain strong.

Manufacturing has been more muted, held back by supply chain disruptions and shortages of critical parts like semiconductors for automakers.

 

Source: NY Times

Author: Greg