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The job market’s turbulent – and likely to remain that way

Mitchell Hartman Nov 5, 2021
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In August, job growth fell by two-thirds to just about 360,000, and September was not even at 200,000. The nature of the job market has been difficult to forecast. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

The job market’s turbulent – and likely to remain that way

Mitchell Hartman Nov 5, 2021
Heard on:
In August, job growth fell by two-thirds to just about 360,000, and September was not even at 200,000. The nature of the job market has been difficult to forecast. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
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The job market’s been on kind of a roller coaster lately — up, up, down, down, up, down down — as both the economic recovery and COVID outbreaks continue. 

The numbers for June and July were really strong: about a million jobs added each month. But in August, job growth fell by two-thirds to just about 360,000, and September was pretty much a dud, at not even 200,000.

There is a lot of volatility and uncertainty in the job market right now.  

Every month economists put out predictions for the jobs report. For October, the range is huge: From a quarter-million to three-quarters of a million new jobs.

“When we look at what’s happening in the labor market, I think we’re dealing in unprecedented times,” said Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute, who added there’s a reason it’s hard to predict right now.

“This lingering pandemic that’s going on has a very large impact on what people and businesses are doing and thinking about work,” she said.

As COVID cases soared in late summer, job creation in hotels, bars and restaurants nearly stalled out. 

Workers also face unprecedented uncertainty, said John Leer at polling firm Morning Consult.

“There’s likely to be permanent sectoral shifts, the future of work is highly uncertain, and we have a lot of policy uncertainty going on,” he said.

This is leading workers to quit, switch jobs, or stay on the sidelines – all of which is likely to make the employment numbers volatile for months to come.

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