Photo by Ralph A Ross; "Unemployed March, Pine Street," 1931. (Missouri Historical Society)

The monthly unemployment report for July is out, and it shows employment cooling down as the coronavirus pandemic keeps getting worse. Those of you with an interest in ancient history may recall that Donald Trump was very very excited about the June unemployment figures, which showed a gain of 4.8 million jobs — although that number was based on hiring just before the COVID-19 numbers started exploding again. In July, the economy added another 1.8 million jobs, but we're a long way away from replacing the 20 million jobs lost in the pandemic. Economists point out that the timing of the surveys used to create the report could again be a factor, and warn that worse could well be on the way as the economy reacts to the spreading pandemic.

Thank Crom Donald Trump at least made it safe to say "Merry Christmas" again, or the country might really be in sad shape.

The July report does mark the third straight month of purported job gains since the economic shutdown that was supposed to stop the spread of the virus, so government could put a plan in place for controlling outbreaks (haha, like THAT happened). Employment went off a cliff in April, with the economy shedding 20 million jobs. In May, hiring started inching up, with 2.7 million people coming back to work. June saw the single biggest gain, with those 4.8 million jobs, mostly people returning to businesses that had reopened. But July's US Bureau of Labor Statistics report of 1.8 million new jobs suggests things are cooling down as employers slow their hiring in response to the coronavirus, and in some cases even start laying people off again, as CNN reports:

A survey from Cornell University showed that 31% of workers who were recently rehired have lost their jobs for a second time during the pandemic. Another 26% have been told that they might get laid off again.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said states with more Covid cases since June also registered the weakest employment recovery. This was most notably true for Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Those trends may not yet be reflected in the monthly survey, which in normal times is a fairly good snapshot of employment, but can have trouble keeping track of a yo-yo-ing economy. The report is based on week-long surveys taken the week of the 12th of each month, so the numbers are already lagging behind where employment is right now, as the Washington Post points out.

"We're going to see a slightly different picture when the impact of that is fully felt," said Lisa Cook, an economist at Michigan State University. "It's an encouraging as a standalone report but what is to come scares me. This is still a really weak market."

Just to toss out one more thing to worry about: If The White House and Senate Republicans keep refusing to extend emergency unemployment benefits for the more than 30 million Americans who had been getting them, and as more people start getting evicted from their homes, AND as the small business stimulus from the (deeply flawed) Paycheck Protection Program expires, that means a lot less money being spent on food and housing and stuff, which of course would mean more layoffs, and a deepening recession.

That's the sort of thing a big stimulus package might be able to prevent (or at least limit), but Republicans, facing defeat this fall, aren't sure they want to spend any money, because just imagine what a fine time they'll have blaming Joe Biden for the crappy economy he'll inherit.

Have a nice day!

[CNN / WaPo / US Bureau of Labor Statistics / Photo: Missouri Historical Society]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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