Published on: August 08, 2020
BY TED C. JONES, PH.D.
Following the economic and humanitarian Coronavirus catastrophe, the U.S. hemorrhaged 22.16 million jobs from the February 2020 peak. Including the 1.763 million jobs recovered in July, 9.729 million jobs have come back, but 12.88 million yet remain. Other good news in July was the drop in the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent from 11.1 percent in June. Pre-Coronavirus, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February and peaked at 14.7 percent in April, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
U.S. total employment is shown in the graph, sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on seasonally adjusted data. Unknown is the go-forward rate of job recapture.
Employment in the Leisure and Hospitality sector is a leading indicator of where the U.S. economy is at. Jobs in the sector are shown in the graph along with times of recession. While June posted a strong recovery, that weakened in July and now may track a check-mark or lowercase r-shaped recovery rather than a V-shaped return.
Supersector employment data, as defined by the BLS, are shown in the following table. Job gains are detailed in thousands and percentages from June to July 2020. Two sectors, Mining & Logging (which includes Oil & Gas) and Information, shed 7,000 and 15,000 jobs, respectively from June to July. Though Leisure & Hospitality notched the largest gain, they also had previously suffered the biggest loss, dropping one of every two jobs from March to April. The next two columns contrast the total percentage of jobs in each of the Supersectors for February (pre-Coronavirus) and July. The last column details the total number of jobs yet to be recovered since the February peak.
To download the latest press release from the BLS click https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf
While the economy is improving, the rate of gain in the past month was a fraction of the prior month. Complete recovery and a return to normal will require either a vaccine or a therapeutic – though hopefully promising -- neither are a sure thing today. This is not over until you can walk onto a packed elevator, sit on a sold-out flight or attend a Texas A&M football game without concern.
We are not there yet – unfortunately.