US employers added just 194,000 jobs in September, a second straight tepid gain and evidence that the pandemic still has a grip on the economy, with many companies struggling to fill millions of open jobs. Friday's report from the Labor Department also showed that the unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.8% from 5.2% in August. Those figures are well off what economists expected, per the AP: They anticipated the addition of 488,000 jobs last month and a decline in the unemployment rate to 5.1%. The count is also down from August's sluggish growth of 235,000 jobs, and well off from the average 636,000 jobs that were added in each of the first seven months of the year, per the Wall Street Journal.
The economy is showing some signs of emerging from the drag of the delta variant of the coronavirus, with confirmed new COVID-19 infections declining, restaurant traffic picking up slightly, and consumers eager to spend. But new infections remained high as September began, and employers are still struggling to find workers because many people who lost jobs in the pandemic have yet to start looking again. Supply chain bottlenecks have also worsened, slowing factories, restraining homebuilders, and emptying some store shelves.
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