Still, there’s reason for economic optimism
Adding just 194,000 jobs in September, the U.S. economy fell 60% of Dow Jones estimates, posting another lackluster month of recovery. While President Joe Biden touted the drop in the unemployment rate from 5.1% to 4.8%, part of that decline could be from people leaving the workforce entirely. Still, though, the figure is at its lowest since February 2020, the last month before the pandemic took hold of the U.S.
The private sector did add 317,000 — government payrolls decline by 123,000 jobs, accounting for the gain — with leisure and hospitality leading the way. With 74,000 jobs added, the sector saw its unemployment level drop to 7.7% from 9.1%. News that the U.S. will allow fully vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country in November surely played a role as travel is expected to slowly but surely approach pre-pandemic rates in the coming months.
Despite the missed projection, it does seem the U.S. is turning a corner in the pandemic and the expected vaccine eligibility for children ages 5-11 will help strengthen immunity. Because of this, financial markets did not react strongly to the numbers, seemingly holding out hope that better times are coming soon.
“We’re actually making real progress,” Biden said. “Maybe it doesn’t seem fast enough. I’d like to see it faster and we’re going to make it faster. Maybe it doesn’t appear dramatic enough. We’re making consistent steady progress, though.”
Access to childcare remains a stumbling block for a return to the workforce for parents, particularly mothers.
“There was a certain level of enlightenment about issues … failures and fractures and fissures in our systems for a long time,” Vice President Kamala Harris said to a group at a childcare center in New Jersey on Friday. “But it became apparent one of them was the accessibility and affordability of child care and also the disproportionate responsibility that women and families take when the resources are stretched thin.”