US employers added a substantial 4.8 million jobs in June, and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1%, as the job market improved for a second straight month, yet still remained far short of regaining the colossal losses it suffered this spring, per the AP. The nation has now recovered roughly one-third of the 22 million jobs it lost to the pandemic recession. And with confirmed coronavirus cases spiking across the Sun Belt states, a range of evidence suggests that a job market recovery may be stalling. In those states and elsewhere, some restaurants, bars, and other retailers that had reopened are being forced to close again.
"We're in the beginning of a slow recovery," Marianne Wanamaker, a labor economist at the University of Tennessee, tells the Wall Street Journal. "I think the recovery will stall out if we don't get control of the virus." The reclosings are keeping layoffs elevated: The number of Americans who sought unemployment benefits barely fell last week to 1.47 million. Though that weekly figure has declined steadily since peaking in late March, it's still more than double the pre-pandemic peak set in 1982. And the total number of people receiving jobless aid remains at a sizable 19 million. (Read more unemployment stories.)