President Joe Biden’s week just keeps getting worse and worse.
Biden’s poll numbers have crashed into near historic lows. Republicans have announced huge donation windfalls. Democratic insiders have been ordered to prison. Liberals lost a longshot court battle to reshape Congress. And Biden’s administration is on the verge of losing Congress.
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Early Friday, the Biden administration issued a jobs report that stunned economists and pundits. U.S. employers added just 194,000 jobs in September, a second straight tepid gain and evidence that the pandemic has kept its 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 sank last month from 5.2% to 4.8%. The rate fell in part because more people found jobs but also because about 180,000 fewer people looked for work in September, which meant they weren’t counted as unemployed.
September’s sluggish job gains fell shy of even the modest 336,000 that the economy had added in August and were the fewest since December, when employers actually cut jobs.
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. The shortages have also pushed inflation to its highest levels in three decades.
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Economists had expected September to produce robust job growth as schools reopened, thereby freeing parents, especially working mothers, to return to jobs. Several enhanced unemployment benefit programs had expired Sept. 6, potentially providing incentives for more people to seek work. And, at least before delta intensified, many companies had planned to return to working in offices, which would have revitalized still-dormant downtowns.
The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one — known as labor force participation — declined in September from 61.7% to 61.6%, well below the pre-pandemic level of 63.3%, Friday’s report said.
Critics of the Biden administration pounced on the news.
Horrible jobs data. Disguising it as "labour shortages" is a joke.
Dreadful 194k gain (500k expected) in non-farm payrolls in September.
Labor force fell by 183k, still 3 million below pre-pandemic level.
11 months of stagnant labor participation rate, at 61.6%. pic.twitter.com/bfRcV1Ch3l
— Daniel Lacalle (@dlacalle_IA) October 8, 2021
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We were expecting 500K jobs; we got only 194K. Huge disappointment. Never had a worse labor shortage. Worst possible time for multi-trillion government programs keeping folks at home, AND vaccine mandates…that force firing of nurses and nursing home workers. https://t.co/jFyqPTZSdk
— David Asman (@DavidAsmanfox) October 8, 2021
Did I read that right? Only 194k jobs added in Sept? NOT good news- we need more Americans working
— Liz Peek (@lizpeek) October 8, 2021
The Associated Press contributed to this article