U.S. unemployment claims fall to lowest level since pandemic – POLITICO

But the pickup didn’t happen, with employers adding just 194,000 jobs last month. In a bright spot, the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent, though some of that decline occurred because many of those out of work stopped searching for jobs, and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of women working or looking for work fell in September, likely because of difficulties finding child care or because of schools disrupted by Covid-19 outbreaks.

At the same time, Americans are quitting their jobs in record numbers, with about 3 percent of workers doing so in August. Workers have been particularly likely to leave their jobs at restaurants, bars, and hotels, possibly spurred by fear of the delta variant of Covid-19, which was still spreading rapidly in August.

Other workers likely quit to take advantage of higher wages offered by businesses with open positions. Average hourly pay rose at a healthy 4.6 percent in September from a year earlier, and for restaurant workers wage gains in the past year have topped 10 percent.

The number of people continuing to receive unemployment aid has also fallen sharply, mostly as two emergency jobless aid programs have ended. In the week ending Sept. 25, the latest data available, 3.6 million people received some sort of jobless aid, down sharply from 4.2 million in the previous week. A year ago, nearly 25 million people were receiving benefits.

The emergency programs provided unemployment payments for the first time to the self-employed and gig workers, and those who were out of work for more than six months. More than 7 million Americans lost weekly financial support when those two programs expired Sept. 6. An extra $300 in federal jobless aid also expired that week.

Many business executives and Republican politicians said the extra $300 was discouraging those out of work from taking jobs. Yet in about half the states, the additional checks were cutoff as early as mid-June, and those states have not seen faster job growth than states that kept the benefits.

Source