‘3+ Years’ Until Normal: Job Growth Falls Sharply While COVID Cases Spike

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The pace of American hiring dramatically slowed in November, according to today’s job report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In November, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by just 245,000 (economists had predicted 440,000), representing a sharp contrast to analysts’ expected of a slight slowdown in hiring pace from October’s 610,000. Rising COVID-19 cases corresponded to the sizable slowdown in hiring.

On the brighter side, the jobless rate fell to 6.7 percent in November, a slight improvement from October’s 6.9 percent.

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While economic activity has resumed after being curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pace of improvement in the labor market has weakened in recent months. In November, notable job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and health care, according to the BLS report, but employment declined in government and retail trade.

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Under normal circumstances, last month’s job growth would be considered strong. But millions of Americans lost their jobs last spring in the beginning of the pandemic, with roughly 10 million jobs below the pre-pandemic level. This makes today’s number the weakest job growth since May, when the employment recovery started.

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Although U.S. stock futures increased slightly today prior to the release of the jobs report, today’s number reflect a stark reality. The decrease in hiring continues to show that both the economy and the job market are stumbling amidst the backdrop of a worsening pandemic as coronavirus cases spike dramatically.

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