WASHINGTON (AP) — The final jobs report before Election Day a month from now showed hiring slowed in September even as the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.9% — a mixed result for President Donald Trump, who has staked his reelection in part on the economy.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 661,000 jobs last month amid the coronavirus outbreak, down from 1.5 million in August and 1.8 million in July.

Unemployment fell from 8.4% in August, but that mainly reflected a decline 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.


“There seems to be a worrisome loss of momentum,” said Drew Matus, an economist at MetLife Investment Management. “There’s a lot of caution on the part of employers.”

With September’s hiring gain, the economy has now recovered slightly more than half the 22 million jobs wiped out by the coronavirus, which has killed over 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million. With many businesses and customers plagued by fear and uncertainty, some economists say it could take as long as late 2023 for the job market to fully recover.

This week, moreover, brought a new wave of layoff announcements reflecting the continuing slump in travel and tourism: Disney is cutting 28,000 jobs, Allstate will shed 3,800, and U.S. airlines said as many as 40,000 employees are losing their jobs this month as federal aid to the industry expires.

In another problematic sign in Friday’s report, the number of laid-off workers who say their jobs are gone for good rose from 3.4 million to 3.8 million.

While unemployment has tumbled from April, when it topped out at 14.7%, it is still high by historical standards. For

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

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