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Here’s the latest on jobs. Payrolls rose by 661,000 last month, which was less than the 800,000-850,000 economists were expecting. The unemployment rate fell to 7.9%, lower than the 8.2% forecasted.
 
The Line with Greg Heym
Here’s the latest on jobs.
Payrolls rose by 661,000 last month, which was less than the 800,000-850,000 economists were expecting. The unemployment rate fell to 7.9%, lower than the 8.2% forecasted.

Initial claims for unemployment totaled 837,000 last week, down 36,000 from the prior week, and less than the 850,000 forecasted by economists.  Continuing unemployment claims, which, as you know from reading The Line lag initial claims by one week, fell by 980,000 to 11.77 million.That all sounds like pretty good news.

Now that the statistics are out of the way, what does this really mean?

The jobs picture is certainly improving, but at a slower pace than we’d like. Many analysts view the 661,000 jobs added in September as disappointing news. My question to them would be how many should we be adding? How can we determine what the numbers should be, when we’ve never faced a situation like this? Before COVID-19, the U.S. added more than 661,000 jobs in one month just nine times, and that data goes back to 1939.

In the past five months the U.S. has added 11.4 million jobs, roughly half of what was lost in March and April. To me, getting half the jobs back that quickly is amazing. The fact that the unemployment rate has been cut from 14.7% in April, to 7.9% last month is also amazing. If people were told in April that the unemployment rate would be 7.9% in September, I think they would have been very happy.

We still face an uphill battle, and the announcement that President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19 will rattle markets around the world. Congress passing a stimulus plan would ease much of the anxiety, while giving many the help they desperately need. Get it done already, Washington!

That said, our economy is recovering, and in many sectors recovering in a very big way. Here are some recent examples:


Despite all this positive news, we continue to hear that we are still in a recession. I don’t mean to be insensitive to those who have lost their job, but that is ridiculous.

The Atlanta Fed’s latest forecast for 3Q20 GDP growth is now at 34.6%. How can we be in recession when you have that level of growth?

We are all concerned about the future, and a slowdown in job growth is not what anyone wants to see right now. But we need to remember where we were just six months ago, and the progress made since then.

Stay positive and well.

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