The forecast was for unemployment to fall to 9.8% in August, below 10 percent for the first time since the pandemic was first truly felt in the United States in March.
Ball State University economist Michael Hicks says the jobs report is actually “a clear indication” the recovery in fact is slowing.
“One way to think about this economic downturn is as a tall wave, followed by a storm surge,” said Hicks, director of Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “The tall wave has passed, but the storm surge behind gains strength with each passing month. The surge is unlikely to be as tall as the initial wave, but it will be historically large and last for years.
The unemployment rate in February was 3.5%.
The economy has added back 10.6 million jobs since May, said Gus Faucher, PNC Financial chief economist. But employment nationally is still down by 11.5 million, or almost 8 percent, from that February peak.
About 29 million people were receiving some kind of state or federal assistance last month.
The nation is settling in for what likely will be a long, slow recovery. In recent months, the number of people who have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer rose to more than 6 million.