Job Numbers Are Strong, but There's an Asterisk

Numbers may not reflect fast-moving impact of delta variant
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2021 7:47 AM CDT
Job Numbers Are Strong, but There's an Asterisk
A hiring sign is seen at a Stella's Place cafe in Des Plaines, Ill.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The new monthly jobs report is out, and the numbers are stronger than expected for July. But the delta variant is throwing a wrench into assessments. Details:

  • Employers added 943,000 jobs for the month, ahead of consensus estimates of 845,000, reports CNBC.
  • The unemployment rate dropped more than expected, from 5.9% to 5.4%, per the AP. That's the lowest rate since the pandemic began surging in March 2020.
  • The wild card is delta, however. The Wall Street Journal notes that numbers were collected in the middle of the month, and mask mandates and other restrictions instituted around the US since then may have already changed employers' thinking.
  • This uncertainty was reflected in predictions before the numbers were released. While the consensus was 845,000, some estimates were as low as 350,000 and some were higher than 1 million. "That just tells you there's very little confidence in those numbers," Michael Schumacher of Wells Fargo tells CNBC.
  • Another analyst, Nela Richardson of Automatic Data Processing, makes a similar point to the Journal. "The jobs recovery is continuing, but it’s different in character to any we’ve seen before," she says. "I had been looking at September as a point when we could gain momentum—with schools back in session and vaccines widely available. But with the delta variant, we need to rethink that.”
(Read more unemployment stories.)

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