The Labor Department released the final jobs report we'll have before the November election, and it was a mixed bag. The jobless rate fell further than expected, to 7.9% in September from 8.4% in August. But while the Wall Street Journal reports economists had expected about 800,000 jobs to be added, the count came in at 661,000. It's the first month since April that the figure was below one million and the third consecutive month of lower hiring. With September's hiring gain, the economy has recovered slightly more than half the 22 million jobs that were wiped out by the viral pandemic, notes the AP. The roughly 10 million jobs that remain lost exceed the number that the nation shed during the entire 2008-2009 Great Recession.
The September jobs report coincides with other data that suggests that while the economic picture may be improving, the gains have slowed since summer. The economy is under pressure from a range of threats. They include the expiration of federal aid programs that had fueled rehiring and sustained the economy—from a $600-a-week benefit for the unemployed to $500 billion in forgivable short-term loans to small businesses. (Read more unemployment stories.)