How’s the jobs recovery? Depends on the sector of the economy.
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We got a decent — but not great — economic report Friday to kick off the weekend. The Labor Department told us that employers kept bringing jobs back in July, extending the recovery from the mass layoffs we saw when the COVID-19 pandemic started back in March and April.
The economy added 1.8 million jobs overall in July. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2%. That’s a tad higher than the rate’s peak in the Great Recession but a marked improvement from April, when it hit almost 15%.
So which jobs are coming back, and which are going away?
If the losses early in the pandemic were a torrent — 22 million jobs washed away in just about six weeks — the rebound since then has been more like a steady current: around 9 million jobs gained back.
And the back-to-work flow has been strongest in low-wage service jobs that were savaged early on, according to Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter.
“The largest gains were in leisure and hospitality, and in retail,” she said.
Jobs stocking shelves at reopened stores, serving drinks at bars and restaurants, cleaning people’s teeth at dentists’ offices.
But job gains slowed considerably in July, compared to June.
“And that’s because as many cities and states had to pause their reopenings to fight back surges in COVID cases, businesses couldn’t really resume business as usual,” Pollak said.
The jobs recovery is doing better in sectors less affected by government COVID restrictions and consumers’ caution, said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.
“Home construction — and construction in general — is doing well, manufacturing is doing relatively well,” Frick said. “A lot of those are important to the economy because it supports service jobs.”
But Pollak has a warning for professionals whose jobs depend on the consumer economy.
“Among high-wage occupations where most workers can work from home, that typically are recession-proof, we see stagnation and even continued decline,” she said.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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