The Biden administration is attributing the disappointing September jobs report to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and fears over the Delta variant.
In a troubling sign that Covid is still disrupting the economy, the new jobs report indicates that US employers added only 194,000 jobs in September.
“This is a complex report,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told “CNN Newsroom” on Friday, citing lower-than-expected growth in the hospitality industry.
“When we looked at the reason for that, the Delta variant — the rise in the Delta variant — absolutely had an impact in the restaurant-leisure-hospitality area, both as hiring and also in, in people going out to dinner using that,” he said.
Walsh said the report also reflected an “issue” in the “public sector education realm.” The Biden administration, he added, can work with states, work on job training and make sure that the money allocated in the Covid relief bill is spent to boost growth in the next report.
September marked the second-straight month in which the US economy added far fewer jobs than expected. Jobs growth slowed down dramatically in August.
The unemployment rate declined to 4.8% in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, down from 5.2% in August. Joblessness declined across the board, with the Black unemployment rate falling the most of any group — to 7.9% from 8.8% in August.
Walsh did note some “bright spots” in the report, including the women’s participation unemployment rate down to 4.2% and unemployment among Black women is down to 7.3%.
“This is not all doom and gloom here today. Certainly, we know, I would love to be on this show saying we added 3 million jobs to the economy and now we can go on to something else, but unfortunately we’re still — we’re not there yet,” he conceded.
As for what this portends for Democratic negotiations on the Biden economic agenda, Walsh made the argument that the weak job growth bolsters the need to pass the President’s legislative priorities.
“I would hope that, you know, members of Congress and members of the Senate today look at this jobs report and see where the shortfalls are and understand that these investments that the President wants to make in these areas will have long-term, lasting, positive impacts on our economy moving forward,” he continued.
The White House released a report on Thursday highlighting support for vaccine requirements across business and labor communities.
The report also details the positive economic effects among communities with high vaccination rates, including that “small business employee hours grew faster and stayed higher during the rise of the Delta variant in the states that have higher working-age vaccination rates, versus states with lower vaccination rates.”
President Joe Biden is expected to speak about the new jobs numbers later Friday morning.
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