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A resurgence of coronavirus cases in the United States is having a plateau effect on the economic recovery. The July 2020 jobs report from the government shows the pace of hiring has slowed significantly after a short-lived rebound in the spring. (Aug 6)

AP Domestic

U.S. employers added a disappointing 661,000 jobs in September as Sunbelt states resumed business reopenings that were disrupted over the summer by COVID-19 spikes.

The gains offset persistent layoffs at businesses that have exhausted federal aid.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.9% from 8.4% in August, the Labor Department said Friday. But that’s because the labor force — which includes people working and looking for jobs — shrank by about 700,000.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated that 870,000 jobs were added last month.

The jobs report is the last before a Nov. 3 presidential election that could serve as a referendum on President Trump’s handling of the pandemic and its economic fallout. Overall, the economy is still recouping jobs in outsize fashion after shedding a record 22.1 million in early spring but the recovery is slowing, raising the specter of a deficit that could take several years to close.

September marks the third straight monthly pullback in payroll gains after employers added a record 4.8 million in June, 1.7 million in July and 1.5 million in August. All told, the nation has clawed back 11.4 million jobs, slightly more than half the total wiped out as states shut down nonessential businesses and Americans avoided travel and public gathering spots out of contagion fears.

“The slowing momentum in the labor market bodes poorly