Jobs Continue to Rebound After Historic Losses — But Here’s Why the US Isn’t in the Clear Just Yet

The United States labor market experienced another boost last month, but the economy’s recovery could be threatened by a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American employers gained 4.8 million jobs in June, while the unemployment rate declined to 11.1%. Economists had forecasted an addition of 2.9 million nonfarm payrolls and a jobless rate of 12.4%. It follows May’s jobs report, which marked the largest single-month employment surge in U.S. history since at least 1939.

“These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,” added the agency.

Yesterday, however, new infections in the country surpassed 50,000 for the first time to reach a single-day record, leading a number of local governments and many businesses to reverse their course on reopening. Some states that were among the first to ease restrictions — including Arizona, Florida and Texas — are now reporting new highs for current coronavirus hospitalizations.

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What’s more, weekly jobless claims rose by 1.43 million in the week ending June 27, versus economists’ expected 1.38 million increase, signaling that the labor market is still struggling to bounce back after the biggest wave of layoffs in U.S. history.

For the month of June, the retail sector added nearly 740,000 jobs, following a gain of 372,000 in May and losses totaling 2.4 million in March and April combined. Notable improvements occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores, with 201,600 jobs, and general merchandise stores, which grew by 108,100. Sporting goods and hobby stores saw 65,500 more jobs, while miscellaneous store retailers advanced by 70,100 and non-store retailers added 7,600 jobs.

The retail industry has been among the hardest hit, with scores of department stores, specialty shops and other boutiques shuttering their doors for weeks. During that period, many nonessential employers were left with little choice but to terminate or furlough their workers.

As states and localities continue to loosen lockdown orders, many workers will gradually be expected to return to their posts, but experts have pointed out that it likely will take years for the economy to recover from the tens of millions of jobs lost during the health crisis.

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