WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added 661,000 jobs in September, the third straight month of slower hiring and evidence from the final jobs report before the presidential election that the economic recovery has weakened.

With September’s hiring gain, the economy has recovered only slightly more than half the 22 million jobs that were wiped out by the viral pandemic. The nearly 10 million jobs that remain lost exceed the number that the nation shed during the entire 2008-2009 Great Recession. By comparison with September, employers added nearly 1.5 million jobs in August, 1.8 million in July and 4.8 million in June.

The unemployment rate for September fell to 7.9%, down from 8.4% in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Since April, the jobless rate has tumbled from 14.7%. But last month’s drop in joblessness reflected largely a drop in the number of people seeking work, rather than a surge in hiring. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed if they aren’t actively looking for a job.

Including part-time workers who would prefer full-time work and people who have stopped looking for a job a broader measure of what is called under-employment was 12.8% in September, down from 14.2% in August.

Last month’s job gains appeared to reflect mainly temporarily laid-off workers who were recalled to their old jobs, continuing a trend in place since April, rather than people joining new employers. In a worrisome sign, the number of Americans who say their jobs are gone for good rose to 3.8 million from 3.4 million.

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

WASHINGTON — A critical snapshot of the job market and the economy to be released Friday is expected to show a further deceleration in hiring as the nation’s viral caseload creeps higher and as government financial aid has faded.

When the Labor Department issues its September jobs report, economists predict it will show a gain of 850,000, according to a survey by data provider FactSet. That would mark a third straight monthly slowdown, after June’s 4.8 million job gain, July’s 1.7 million and August’s 1.4 million.

If the forecast for September proves accurate, it would mean that the economy has regained only slightly more than half the 22 million jobs that vanished when the pandemic flattened the economy in early spring. Should job gains continue to remain below 1 million a month, it would take until late 2021 or 2022 to recoup them all.

So far, hiring has rebounded quickly compared with previous recessions. The gains have mainly reflected millions of temporarily laid-off Americans who were called back to work when retailers, restaurants, medical offices and other businesses reopened, at least partly, from their pandemic-induced shutdowns.

But slowing job growth has raised the specter of a prolonged downturn that feeds on itself and becomes harder to fully reverse. Many temporary layoffs are becoming permanent as hotels, restaurants, airlines, retailers, entertainment venues and other employers anticipate a longer slump than they initially expected. There is also growing fear of a resurgence of the virus, which would compound the threat.

The longer that laid-off workers fail to find jobs, the more likely it is that they will have to look for new work with new employers or in different occupations. Doing so can require additional training or education and take much longer to achieve than just returning to a previous job. The

Pepsi (PEP) will report third quarter fiscal 2020 earnings results before the opening bell Thursday. The snack and beverage giant has taken a hit during the pandemic, in part due to the lockdown restrictions and the effect restaurant closures has had on the company’s soda and overall beverage sales.

In that same vein, however, with more people working and learning from home, Pepsi’s Frito-Lay brands snack business has taken off as shoppers stocked both their pantries and refrigerators with several Pepsi prepared-food brands such as Quaker Foods and Rice-A-Roni. While the company reported an 2% decline in Q2 organic revenue, this was nonetheless better than expected as overall demand took a hit at the height of the pandemic — an issue that also impacted rivals Coca-Cola (KO) and Keurig Dr. Pepper Snapple (KDP).

Nonetheless, Pepsi’s diversified food and beverage portfolio was a notable asset to the company, unlike its aforementioned rivals as Q2 total core gross margin rate grew 6 basis points to 55.6%. It’s for this reason, among other achievements, that Pepsis stock has outperformed the Consumer Staples Select Sector SDPR ETF (XLP) over the past six months. For the share price to remain bubbly, on Thursday the company will need to plant more optimism about the sustainability of its growth drivers, including its Frito-Lay North America business.

For the three months that ended September, Wall Street expects the company to earn of $1.48 per share on revenue of $17.21 billion. This compares to the year-ago quarter when earnings came to $1.56 per share on $17.19 billion in revenue. For the full year, ending in October, earnings of $5.36 per share would decline 3% year over year, while full-year revenue of $68 billion would rise about 1.2% year over year.

While the expected year-over-year declines in Q3 EPS