Latest jobs report shows larger than expected decline in labor force participation

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Even as unemployment rates continue falling, the latest federal jobs report shows the pandemic still is impacting the country’s economy.

This is according to Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ September jobs report showed gains of 194,000 jobs, and a large decline in labor force participation, he said. The nation’s jobless rate in September was 4.8%, down from 5.2% in August.

“This is far lower than most models predicted, and suggests the COVID-19 pandemic continues to slow economic performance across the nation,” said Hicks.

Hicks said the labor force losses were composed entirely of women, whose levels in the workforce declined by 296,000. He said that shows continued child care responsibilities are keeping many women out of the labor force.

Job gains were modest, and spread across most private sectors. He said that differed from the August report that saw job losses concentrated in hospitality and tourism.

About 36% of all unemployed workers came most recently from jobs in retail, wholesale, hospitality and the tourism sectors. Job losses were clustered in educational services and in healthcare, especially in long-term care and specialty care facilities.

Hicks said the latest jobs report revealed the end of pandemic unemployment benefits provided little help to employers seeking workers.


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