The Job Numbers Are Much-Needed Good News. And They’re Likely to Get Better.
Published in The Washington Post
on July 2, 2020
Thursday’s jobs report was another jolt of good news for a nation sorely in need of one. There’s also reason to believe next month’s report will be nearly as good despite the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
Let’s recap the report’s highlights. The unemployment rate dropped from 13.3 percent to 11.1 percent as the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June. The rate dropped even though the labor force participation rate — the share of adults looking for a job — rose by 0.7 points to 61.5 percent. That means enough jobs were added to draw more than a million people back into the labor force at the same time as re-employing millions of people. That’s stunning news that should not be played down.
The good news was also spread across nearly all sectors of the economy. Construction and manufacturing employment are nearly back to the pre-pandemic levels. Retail trade employment jumped by nearly 750,000 as stores started to reopen nationwide. Employment in health care leaped by nearly 400,000 as doctor and dentist offices came back. Even the hard-hit restaurant industry sprung back to life, adding nearly 1.5 million jobs. Employment levels remain down from the record highs in February, but the rate of change is dramatic and in the right direction.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.