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October 2, 2020

Last Jobs Report Before the Election

The economy added 661,000 jobs in September, as the recovery continues.

It’s the mark of a fairly healthy economic recovery when news reports express disappointment with a gain of 661,000 jobs in a month, but that’s where we are for this last jobs report before the November election. Economists had predicted 800,000 jobs in September and a headline unemployment rate of 8.2%. While the jobs numbers were below expectations — primarily because of, as CNBC reports, “a drop in government hiring” — the headline unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. Back in February, which seems so very long ago, that rate was a historically low 3.5%.

Of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April’s economic bloodbath, the U.S. economy has recovered more than 11 million of them. But layoffs persist in some sectors. Just three companies account for 60,000 layoffs this week — Disney permanently laid off 28,000 theme-park workers, while American Airlines and United Airlines cut 32,000 jobs — and those losses aren’t included in the September report.

Democrats will, of course, attempt to hang a “sluggish” recovery around President Donald Trump’s neck. That might be fair enough in “the buck stops here” sense, but in reality it’s a gross distortion. The nation’s two biggest states, California and New York, are both run by Democrats and both remain significantly restricted economically.

The fallout in New York? According to state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, half of New York City’s restaurants and bars are at risk of having to “close forever.” That could cost 150,000 jobs — job losses that would be the responsibility of Democrat NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, not the president. It is their orders, not his, that keep such establishments running at a fraction of capacity, if at all.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the COVID recession “is the most unequal in modern U.S. history” because unemployment has “overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers.” Forgive us if we get the impression that blue-state governors and mayors find more political benefit in “unequal” job losses than they do in helping their own constituents by fully reopening the economy. These aren’t statistics or political pawns; they’re individuals’ livelihoods and futures.

On a final note, Congress is stalled on another COVID relief package. (The expiring money from the March CARES Act is why the airlines laid off all those employees.) Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats passed a larded-up $2.2 trillion package Wednesday, but without a single Republican vote and no hope of Senate passage. Ironically, if Democrats would get government out of the way, no one would need another debt-bomb relief package. But at least Democrats have a campaign issue.

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