“America is getting back to work. Our economy is starting to work for more Americans,” President Biden said in remarks at the White House on Friday.
This comes after 531,000 jobs were added all across the country in October, blowing past economists’ predictions of 450,000, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent.
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This is a positive turnout compared to a disappointing report in September, where 194,000 jobs were added. The economists projected half a million jobs then.
“The slowdown we’ve seen the last few months has been largely driven by the delta variant,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor.com. Now, with cases of COVID-19 lessening as the days go by, a better outcome for jobs might be on the horizon.
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The pandemic fundamentally altered the contours of the American workforce, a finding that has implications for lagging labor force participation, particularly among women.
Despite improvements in overall workforce health, women’s participation remains depressed. Economists say there are a few likely culprits, such as the uneven distribution of child care responsibilities for working parents, as well as the service-sector-focused nature of the pandemic job losses, which were concentrated in many industries that disproportionately employ women.
“For mothers, I think they need a sense of stability about what the situation with in-person schooling and child care will look like,” said Nick Bunker, economist and head of research at Indeed hiring services company.
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Recently, labor market experts had been projecting a rebound for October’s numbers, based on falling Covid-19 cases in much of the country and increases in so-called “high frequency” metrics like airport passenger traffic and restaurant reservations.
Recent productivity gains have so far helped companies offset the impact of paying higher wages on profit margins — one big reason the economy has so far been able to ward off an out-of-control inflationary wage-price spiral.
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“The reality is we’ve become accustomed to having the opportunity and the ease of being able to do a lot of things at home,” said Lisa Erickson, co-head of the public markets group in U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
“People are reassessing their life choices,” she added.
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