By Nelson D. Schwartz from the New York Times. He has covered economics since 2012. Previously, he wrote about Wall Street and banking, and also served as European economic correspondent in Paris. He joined The Times in 2007 as a feature writer for the Sunday Business section.
The American economy roared into midsummer with a strong gain in hiring, but there are questions about its ability to maintain that momentum as the Delta variant of the coronavirus causes growing concern.
Employers added 943000 jobs in July, the Labour Department reported Friday, August 6, 2021, but the data was collected in the first half of the month, before variant-related cases exploded in many parts of the country.
The jobs gain for June, initially reported at 850000, was revised to 938000.
While the economy and job growth overall have been strong in recent months, experts fear that the variant’s spread could undermine those gains if new restrictions become necessary. Already, some events have been canceled, and many companies have pulled back from plans for employees to return to the office in September.
Still, with schools planning to reopen, at least for now, and Americans continuing to dine out and travel, the economy’s expansion remained on track last month. Some experts foresee a slight cooling on the horizon, but most think unemployment will keep falling as the labour market recovers the ground lost in the pandemic.
“It’s been a sprint in terms of growth, but we may be moving into more of a marathon,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. “Travel season is winding down, and the Delta variant is a big concern.”
The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 %, compared with 5.9 % in June. Before the report, the consensus of economists polled by Bloomberg forecast a gain of 858000 jobs, with the unemployment rate dipping to 5.7 %.
The unemployment rate notched down in July.
The share of people who have looked for work in the past four weeks or are temporarily laid off, which does not capture everyone who is out of work because of the pandemic.
The education arena, often a laggard in July as schools close and teachers go off the payroll, was a leader last month. Instead of letting teachers go as they have in the past, schools kept more workers on the payroll, creating a larger seasonal adjustment upward in the number of teaching jobs.
Local government added 221000 education jobs, after a jump in June, and 40000 jobs were added in private education. Leisure and hospitality businesses, which were hit hard by lockdowns last year, recovered further, adding 380000 jobs. That included 253000 in food and drinking establishments, along with hiring gains in lodging and in arts, entertainment and recreation.
Manufacturing and construction showed more modest increases, hampered by higher goods prices and a shortage of components like semiconductors. Employment in professional and business services jumped by 60000, a sign that the white-collar sector is on the upswing.
“Business is unbelievable,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing firm in Chicago. “Companies are continuing to hire salespeople in numbers that I’ve never seen. It shows me that companies are very optimistic about the future.”
“We’re seeing demand for senior people, but it’s not crazy,” he added. “The huge demand is entry to midlevel, with salaries ranging from USD 45000 to USD 90000. It’s the rebirth of the middle manager.”
Despite the hiring gains, many managers report difficulty in finding applicants for open positions. Jeanine Lisa Klotzkin manages an outpatient addiction treatment center in White Plains, N.Y., and has had only limited success in her search for addiction counselors.
“Normally, we’d have dozens of candidates,” she said. But six weeks after posting an online job ad, her clinic has received four applications. The positions pay USD 50000 to USD 63000 a year, said Ms. Klotzkin, who added: “These aren’t low-wage jobs. I don’t know where the people went.”