For the third month in a row, the number of people unemployed nationally has declined, suggesting a continuing economic recovery along the lines of past post-recession periods.
According to the newest Department of Labor report, the unemployment rate in August fell to 8.4%, a decrease of nearly 2% from July’s 10.2%.
Viewed from the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in March, when the unemployment rate soared to nearly 15%, the numbers are even more impressive.
Analysts say a gradual re-opening of the economy, particularly in the retail and services sectors, helped drive the new numbers.
At the same time, according to the Labor Department, “the advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 22 was 13,254,000, a decrease of 1,238,000 from the previous week’s revised level.”
The hospital and leisure sectors saw significant improvements, adding 174,000 new workers. But it was pointed out that these numbers were far less impressive compared to the 621,000 new jobs created in these sectors earlier this summer.
The construction industry added 16,000 new jobs in August. Those jobs were primarily in the booming housing sector. At the same time, infrastructure and non-residential building was off by 11,000 jobs.
Compared to the country at large, the overall construction industry unemployment rate in August was marginally lower at 7.6%.
In a statement, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer with the Associated General Contractors of America, remarked: “It is clear that the commercial construction industry will not begin to recover until Washington can enact responsible new recovery measures.”
While acknowledging the generally positive jobless trend line, William Spriggs, chief economist with the AFL-CIO, noted that a “key issue going forward in the recovery is the continued drop in the number of workers reporting they are on temporary layoff,” versus the “growing number with permanent job loss, which stood at 3.4 million in August.”
While the current unemployment rate is 6.3% lower than what it was this spring, notes the publication Business Insider, “there were still 11.5 million fewer employed in August than in February, before the coronavirus began spreading widely in the U.S.”
By Garry Boulard
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