WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — America’s employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, a surprisingly weak gain after two months of robust hiring at a time when the delta variant’s spread has discouraged some people from flying, shopping and eating out.
However, the overall unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% from 5.4% in July.
The report, issued by the Department of Labor on Friday, fell short of the roughly 940,000 that employers had added in each of the previous two months, when the vaccination rate allowed the economy to fully reopen from prior pandemic restrictions. Still, the number of job openings remains at record levels, and hiring is expected to stay solid in the coming months.
With vaccinations spreading, economists’ hope was that as fears of viral infections waned, more people would be eager to take jobs. Schools and child care centers would reopen, enabling more parents, particularly women, to start looking for work. And with a $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement set to expire next week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and others speculated that more of the unemployed would be looking for work.
President Joe Biden acknowledged he wanted to see a higher number of new jobs but argued that wages are going up and jobs have been added in each report since he took office.
He also called for Congress to pass his two economic plans which he says would help average Americans and job growth.
“Now we need Congress to come through for the American economy,” Biden stated. He added his dismay that no Republican supports his spending plan.
Biden stressed that the record stock markets and billionaire profits this year show how desperately his planned reforms to the corporate tax rate inside his economic plan are.
Biden said in reference to those corporations using lobbyists to attempt to avoid changes to the tax law, “Let me be perfectly clear, I’m going to take them on.”
“Just pay your fair share,” Biden stated.
Now, though, the spread of the virus’ delta variant has called some of those expectations into question. With COVID cases having spiked in July and August, Americans have been buying fewer plane tickets and reducing hotel stays. Restaurant dining, after having fully recovered in late June, has declined to about 10% below pre-pandemic levels.
Yet there are signs that many companies are still looking to hire, particularly those that are not in public-facing service industries like restaurants and bars. The job listings website Indeed says the number of available jobs grew in August, led by such sectors as information technology and finance, in which many employees can work from home.
Walmart announced this week that it will hire 20,000 people to expand its supply chain and online shopping operations, including jobs for order fillers, drivers and managers. Amazon said Wednesday that it is looking to fill 40,000 jobs in the U.S., mostly technology and hourly positions.
And Fidelity Investments said Tuesday that it is adding 9,000 more jobs, including in customer service and IT.