Jobs not galore. And the target keeps moving
In October, there were 142.4 million employees on the payroll at “establishments” – businesses, non-profits, governments, etc., but not counting gig workers. That was up by 638,000 employees from the prior month, and still down by 10.1 million employees from February (152.5 million), based on surveys of these establishments by the Census Bureau, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning. At the low point in April, there had been 22.2 million fewer employees at these establishments than there had been in February. In other words, these establishments recovered 12.1 million of the 22.2 million lost jobs.
In percentage terms, employment in October at these establishments was still down 6.1% from a year ago. While this is a big improvement from the 13.4% plunge in April, it remains the steepest year-over-year drop in employment prior to the Pandemic since 1945
And this forms a pattern in the recovery that is being duplicated in many other data sets: After the initial plunge came the bounce, and the recovery continues but at a slowing pace and remains still very far from where activity levels had been. This can be seen in the two charts below: first jobs, and second a broad index of activity. Though the charts are very different, the slopes of their lines are very similar.
In October, the employment levels at establishments was still down 6.9% from January. Note the slowing recovery that is by a wide and historic margin below the January level
And second, the very similarly shaped weekly index of how many people are going to “places of commerce” in the 40 largest metro areas in the US, based on cellphone GPS data. These places of commerce include offices, stores, malls, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, airports, hospitals, other places of commerce and other points of interest. The index, released by the American Enterprise Institute, compares the number of visits on a weekly basis to the number of visits in the week ended January 15.
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