“The economy is certainly improving: The August report shows that the labor force participation rate increased a bit and millions more furloughed workers returned to their jobs.
But there are a bunch of clues in this month’s report that the growth we’re seeing now isn’t as robust as it looks, and that it probably isn’t sustainable without a dramatic change in public health conditions:
- A significant chunk of the jobs gained in August were added thanks to a once-in-a-decade phenomenon that has nothing to do with the current recession — a slew of temporary hiring for the U.S. Census.
- Private-sector job growth is slowing overall, and the industries that were hit hardest by the pandemic — like leisure and hospitality — appear to be stalling out well below their pre-pandemic peak.
- Getting people back to work will likely be harder and harder in the coming months, because a growing share of unemployed people have lost their jobs permanently.
- The recovery is arriving faster for some groups than others — which means that workers of color, in particular, are still suffering much higher levels of unemployment than white workers.”