WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States added 1.8 million jobs in July, slowing from June’s 4.8-million jobs gain, as a new wave of coronavirus infections hampered the labour market recovery from the pandemic, the Labour Department said in its monthly jobs report on Friday.
“Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.8 million in July, and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent”, the department said in a news release, comparing it to the June unemployment rate of 11.1 percent.
July’s job gains were most notably in leisure and hospitality, government, retail trade, professional and business services, other services, and health care, the Labor Department said.
Separately, the department said on Thursday that a new batch of 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims during the week ended 1 Aug, adding to benefits continuously sought by around 16 million people since the height of disruptions caused by the coronavirus to the US economy.
The economy lost more than 21 million jobs for all of March and April, at the height of lockdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. It posted a surprising addition of 7.3 million jobs between May and June as businesses began to reopen, although a recent resurgence in coronavirus cases seems to have slowed the recovery.
The July jobs report came as Republicans led by President Donald Trump and their Democrat rivals in Congress remained deadlocked on whether to extend a $600 weekly benefit to jobless Americans that expired last week. Trump wants to cut the weekly benefit to $200, saying the earlier payout was so “generous” that it discouraged many from returning to work, even with businesses having reopened from lockdowns forced by the pandemic.
Trump on Thursday said he has instructed his staff to draft an Executive Order he was expected to sign on extending unemployment benefits and other aid for Americans should negotiations in Congress between his Republican side and rival Democrats remain at an impasse.
The president, who is seeking re-election in November, needs as many Americans working as possible to revive the economy from a record decline of nearly 33 percent in the second quarter. Without an extension of the benefit or approval of a new one, those laid off since March due to the pandemic will be left with weekly no government assistance for emergency cash. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who heads Republican lawmakers, said on Tuesday he was agreeable to extending the $600 benefit if Trump was alright with it.