There were 6.4 million job openings on the last business day of September, ‘little changed” from prior months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday. But it is below the 7 million job openings in the months before the pandemic.
The Calculated Risk graph shows job openings (yellow line), hires (dark blue), Layoff, Discharges and other (red column), and Quits (light blue column) from the JOLTS report that gives us the best jobs picture outside the Labor Department’s monthly unemployment report.
And the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits has remained above its 665,000 peak during the 2007-09 Great Recession. At least 21.5 million people were still receiving unemployment benefits in mid-October.
So the JOLTS report shows the spring back in job openings, but fallback in hires as the year end approaches.
How will the new Biden administration bring back those jobs with COVID-19 numbers surpassing last summer and predicted to rise through at least December?
The good news is that the economy was growing and unemployment at record lows before the pandemic hit. There was no housing boom and bust, or overleveraged financial markets and poor credit controls that caused the Great Recession.
But there is still the record income inequality worsened with this pandemic that will slow down any recovery. Consumer demand would be boosted by raising the national minimum wage, which Biden advocates. President Biden could do this for federal contract workers, but congress would have to approve a raise to it nationally.
We could recover quickly, if we regain a national resolve to work together, as this election seems to have mandated, in other words.
The U.S. has already regained 630,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell sharply again to 6.9 percent, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reflecting a surprising show of strength for the economy even as coronavirus cases rose to record highs.
“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and efforts to contain it,” the BLS said in its press release. “In October, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction. Employment in government declined.”
President-elect Biden’s creation of a COVID-19 national task force and implementing national mandates for mask wearing, testing, and vaccinations once he is in the White House should help to control its further spread and shorten the recovery time, bringing consumers back to their shopping ways.
The states reported 1.2 million tests and 131k cases, the highest single-day total since the pandemic started on Tuesday, reports the Covid Tracking Project. There are 62k people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. The death toll was 1,347, and now totals 231,659 Americans since the beginning of the pandemic.
So I see sunnier days ahead if we can prevent even worse consequences from the current phase two or three surge in infections and deaths. That means convincing most Americans to follow the science. President-elect Biden will have the bully pulpit to do so.
Harlan Green © 2020
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