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Job growth slows in July

By Masao Suzuki |
August 7, 2020
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San José, CA - In March and April of this year, more than 20 million jobs were lost because of the economic crisis, COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders to fight the virus. Millions more who were working gig jobs or had their own businesses lost their livelihood. At the time when the government count was done in mid-July, more than 30 million people - almost 20% of the workforce - were collecting some form of unemployment insurance benefits.

But most states quickly reopened their businesses, before the virus had been beaten down to levels where public health offices could track down and isolate new infections. The result? A quick economic bounce in May and June, with about a third of the jobs lost earlier coming back to work. But the virus also bounced back, reaching record levels in July. The virus has now spread to the entire country, and as a result, businesses are losing sales and governments are pausing or rolling back re-opening, and job gains slowed dramatically, from 4.8 million more jobs in June to just 1.8 million in July, according the Department of Labor’s monthly employment report released on Friday, August 7.

The official unemployment rate fell from 11.1% in June to 10.2% in July. This is still higher than the higher rate during the so-called Great Recession of 2007-2009. This official rate also undercounts those who have lost income, as it does not count people who stopped looking for work, and those that have had their hours of work cut. The average workweek fell in July, a sign of weakness in the job market. The report showed that more and more people have been out of work for a long time. Almost half the unemployed have now been unemployed for 15 weeks or more.

While workers of all nationalities were hit hard by this COVID-19 pandemic recession, white workers regained jobs the fastest in May, June and July. While their unemployment rate is a bit lower than African Americans and Latinos, Asian Americans saw the biggest increase in their unemployment rate. Their unemployment rate was more than 9% higher than in February, as compared to a 6.7% increase on average.

The “Household Pulse Survey” taken weekly by the Census Bureau showed the economy slowing in July. The number of households that had lost jobs and that expected to lose income in the future both rose in July as compared to June. The survey also showed that more households ran short of food and/or were uncertain about making their rent payments in July as compared to June.

But despite the tens of millions of people who have lost their livelihood and have to depend on government aid, the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits and the federal eviction restrictions both ended at the end of July. Millions more unemployed workers are going to face their families going hungry or being put out on the street even as a pandemic is raging.

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