The US economy had a record 10.9 million job openings on the last day of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday.

Jobs, jobs, everywhere.

That’s what the latest snapshot of the United States labour market is telling us. The world’s largest economy had a record 10.9 million job openings on the last day of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said on Wednesday. That marked an increase of 749,000 job openings from the previous month – which was also a record.

In a sign of how confident people feel about their employment prospects, some four million Americans quit their jobs in July – roughly level pegging with the previous month.

While that may be awesome news for workers pounding the pavements in search of gainful employment, it is not necessarily great for the economy as a whole.

Why? Because jobs are only created when someone is actually hired. And robust jobs creation is the hallmark of a robust economic recovery.

In August, the US economy added 235,000 jobs – a bitter disappointment that marked the slowest pace of monthly non-farm payrolls added since January.

The economy is still 5.3 million jobs shy of regaining its pre-pandemic level from February 2020. And that shortfall doesn’t even account for growth in the economy or labour force since then, which means the hole is even deeper than the number suggests.

The Delta drag

Many analysts primarily blamed the slowing pace of jobs creation in August on a surge in COVID-19 infections linked to the Delta variant of the coronavirus. As evidence, they pointed to the sharp slowdown of new jobs added in the leisure and hospitality sector – hotels, restaurants and other businesses that engage in face-to-face customer services.

Leisure and hospitality businesses have reported difficulties hiring enough workers over the summer. Some analysts attribute the number of jobs going begging to businesses opening en masse and all vying for the same workers. Other possible reasons cited include an ongoing lack of childcare options, older workers opting to retire early, fear of contracting COVID-19 and enhanced federal jobless benefits giving unemployed workers more breathing room to switch up how they make a living.

Federal job benefits, including the sometimes controversial $300-a-week federal top-up to state unemployment benefits, expired this week. That will put to the test claims by politicians and others that federal unemployment benefits were the primary culprit keeping jobless workers on the sidelines.

Looking ahead

While COVID-19 infections are weighing on the US recovery, along with bottlenecks for raw materials and labour, the nation’s economic recovery is still on track.

Many analysts, though, are lowering their outlook for economic growth.

“Signs that Covid infections may be cresting should prevent the labor market recovery from going into reverse and ensure that consumer spending maintains moderate momentum into 2022,” Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note on Wednesday. He added that his firm has trimmed its 2021 gross domestic product growth forecast by 0.6

NANNING: Malaysia has proposed a cross-border mechanism between Asean and China that introduces a travel bubble and quarantine arrangement to revive the economy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said recognising the vaccination certificates issued by the countries was also another area for consideration.

“By removing unnecessary barriers to trade and by rolling back on new restrictive trade measures, we could place ourselves on a steady path for economic recovery and growth.

“As such, we will be in a much better position to revive not only the tourism industry but also our people-to-people connectivity,” he said in a pre-recorded speech at the opening of the 18th China-Asean Expo (CAExpo) and China-Asean Business and Investment Summit here yesterday.

“Cross-border travel bubble is vital for recovery. We have to strive to keep the supply chain connectivity uninterrupted and to facilitate the movement of essential goods and services.

“This is critical for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of our economy,” he said.

Ismail Sabri also called for Asean and its partners to intensify open trade and investment while strengthening the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Business message: The audience listening to Ismail Sabri’s pre-recorded speech during the opening ceremony in Nanning.

RCEP is a free trade agreement signed in November last year by the 10 Asean members, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea after eight years of negotiations.

“This has demonstrated that we are committed to the transnational supply chains and keeping markets open amid the ravages of a global pandemic.

“RCEP provides immense opportunities to bolster regional supply chains and for businesses to diversify production networks.

“As we transform adversity into opportunity, this agreement will serve as an integral tool that helps us navigate our regions towards recovery and future growth,” he added.

As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between Asean and China, Ismail Sabri said he was heartened to see the relations gaining strength over the years.

In 2020, China remained Malaysia’s largest export destination for the 12th consecutive year, with a total value of US$37.92bil (RM157.3bil), contributing to 16.2% of the country’s total export.

The annual CAExpo is the main Chinese exhibition participated by the Malaysian business community.

This year, 58 Malaysian companies are showcasing their products at the four-day event until Sept 13. The number was greatly reduced by over 300% last year due to cross-border restrictions and controls brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 310,000, a pandemic low and a sign that the surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant has yet to lead to widespread layoffs.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims dropped from a revised total of 345,000 the week before. The number of applications has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January, reflecting the steady reopening of the economy after the pandemic recession.

But the spread of the delta variant this summer has put renewed pressure on the economy and the job market. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve reported that U.S. economic activity “downshifted” in July and August, in part because of a pullback in dining out, travel and tourism related to concerns about the delta variant.

And last week, the government reported that hiring slowed dramatically in August, with employers adding just 235,000 jobs after having added roughly a million in both June and July. Hiring plummeted in industries that require face-to-face contact with the public, notably restaurants, hotels and retail. Still, some jobs were added in other areas, and the unemployment rate actually dropped to 5.2% from 5.4%.

This week, more than 8 million people lost all their unemployment benefits with the expiration of two federal programs that covered gig workers and people who had been jobless for more than six months. Those emergency programs had been created in March 2020, when the pandemic first tore through the economy.

An additional 2 million people have lost a $300-a-week federal supplement to state unemployment benefits that expired this week. Some business owners had complained that the federal supplement made it harder to fill open jobs. Those pleas led governors in about 25 states to cancel the $300 payment early and to shut off the two emergency programs in most of those states as well. But academic research has found that so far, the early cut-offs in jobless benefits have led to only a small increase in hiring in those states.

Many economists express concern that the cut-off will lead to financial hardship because the resurgence of the pandemic will make it harder for some of the unemployed to find work. After previous recessions, emergency expansions of jobless aid ended at a time when far fewer people were still receiving benefits.

Still, the ongoing drop in applications for unemployment aid — six declines in the past seven weeks — makes clear that most companies are holding onto their workers despite the slowdown. That trend should help sustain the economic rebound through the current wave of infections.

The pace of hiring, though, has weakened — at least for now. Last week, the government reported that hiring slowed dramatically in August, with employers adding just 235,000 jobs after having added roughly a million in both June and July. Hiring plummeted in industries that require face-to-face contact with the public, notably restaurants, hotels and retail. Still, some jobs were added in other areas, and the unemployment rate actually dropped to 5.2% from 5.4%.

The steady fall in weekly applications for unemployment benefits coincides with a scaling-back of aid for jobless Americans. This week, more than 8 million people lost all their unemployment benefits with the expiration of two federal programs that covered gig workers and people who have been jobless for more than six months. Those emergency programs were created in March 2020, when the pandemic first tore through the economy.

That cutoff isn’t yet reflected in the weekly jobless claims report. The report’s data on the emergency programs is delayed by two weeks. As of Aug. 21, 8.8 million people were receiving benefits from these two programs.

An additional 2.6 million people were receiving regular state unemployment aid. These recipients have just lost a $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement, which also expired this week.

Some business owners had complained that the federal supplement made it harder to fill open jobs. Those pleas led governors in about 25 states to cancel the $300 payment early and to shut off the two emergency programs in most of those states as well. But academic research has found that so far, the early cut-offs in jobless benefits have led to only a small increase in hiring in those states.

Many economists express concern that the cut-off will lead to financial hardship because the resurgence of the pandemic will make it harder for some of the unemployed to find work. After previous recessions, emergency expansions of jobless aid ended at a time when far fewer people were still receiving benefits.

WASHINGTON, Sept 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. economy “downshifted slightly” in August as the renewed surge of the coronavirus hit dining, travel and tourism, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday, but the economy overall remained in the throes of a post-pandemic rush of rising prices, labor shortages and stilted hiring.

“The deceleration in economic activity was largely attributable to a pullback in dining out, travel, and tourism in most Districts, reflecting safety concerns due to the rise of the Delta variant, and, in a few cases, international travel restrictions,” the Fed reported in its latest Beige Book compendium of anecdotal information about the economy.

Still the document, summing up information collected through Aug. 30 that will be part of the deliberations at the Fed’s Sept. 21-22 policy meeting, reported continued strong demand for workers and hiring made more difficult by “increased turnover, early retirements, childcare needs, challenges in negotiating job offers, and enhanced unemployment benefits. Some Districts noted that return-to-work schedules were pushed back due to the increase in the Delta variant.”

Jobs openings were so plentiful, the Atlanta Fed noted, that restaurants were beset by “ghosting coasting,” where employees take a job for few days then quit with no notice and move on to the next restaurant.

Prices, Fed officials reported, continued to rise.

“Inflation was reported to be steady at an elevated pace,” with Fed districts saying it was either moderate or strong, with costs for metals, freight, construction materials and other industrial staples rising in most districts.

“With pervasive resource shortages, input price pressures continued to be widespread,” the Fed reported, causing headaches across industries as disparate as beer brewing and wedding apparel.

“One contact reported refunding several bridal parties because dresses did not arrive on time for weddings,” the Richmond Fed reported. In the St. Louis Fed district “a regional brewery reported that their supplier increased prices twice between order and delivery for a pallet of aluminum.”

The report describes a difficult landscape for the U.S. economy and the Fed heading into a fall season when it was hoped the recovery from the pandemic would take clearer shape.

The risks of sustained price increases remains real, rather than fading as quickly as Fed officials had hoped.

On the other hand “all Districts continued to report rising employment overall,” possibly alleviating concerns that weak job growth of just 235,000 new positions in August was the edge of a broader slowdown in employment given the spread of the coronavirus Delta variant. Analysts had expected in excess of 700,000 new jobs last month.

HOPING FOR MORE CLARITY ON JOBS

Fed officials are grappling with when to reduce their $120 billion in monthly bond purchases as a first step in a coming shift to post-pandemic monetary policy, and while a decision remains likely this year the August job reading may require further confirmation that hiring will stay on track.

“The Delta variant is weighing on consumer spending and jobs, and the pace of growth appears to be slowing,” New York Fed

The U.S. added 235,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent as the economy appeared to falter under surging coronavirus cases, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.

Economists had expected employment growth to slow slightly in August to a gain of roughly 750,000 jobs, according to consensus forecasts, amid falling consumer confidence and disruptive school closures. Declines in restaurant reservations, air travel and other key drivers of the recovery also raised red flags about the August jobs haul.

“Today’s report has the delta variant written all over it. It is clear that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is a strong headwind to the labor market,” wrote Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed.

The August jobs report showed setbacks in sectors of the economy hit hardest by the pandemic and crucial to the comeback from its economic blow.

The leisure and hospitality sector did not add any net jobs in August as a 42,000-job decline in restaurants and bars wiped out a 36,000-job gain in arts and entertainment. 

Stagnant job growth in leisure and hospitality, one of the areas of the economy most vulnerable to COVID-19, is an alarming sign for the pace of the recovery. The sector added an average of 350,000 jobs per month since February and remains down by 1.7 million from its peak in 2020, the Labor Department said.

Employment in retail, another hard-hit sector, also fell by 29,000 thanks to steep losses at grocery stores and building material and garden supply stores. 

Instead, the bulk of the August jobs gain came from professional and business services (74,000), transportation and warehousing (53,000), manufacturing (37,000) and private education (40,000).

“The industry breakdown in employment growth shows clear signs that the increased COVID-19 spread is behind this relatively weak number,” Bunker wrote. “Yet, the labor market is still recovering.”

While job growth slowed significantly in August, the first full month since the delta surge picked up in mid-July, the labor market still showed signs of resilience.

Labor force participation stayed even at 61.7 percent in August and the employment to population ratio — a broader gauge of job market strength — ticked up 0.1 percentage points to 58.5 percent. 

The unemployment rate for whites dropped from 4.8 percent to 4.5 percent as labor force participation stayed even, showing continued progress. Black unemployment jumped from 8.2 percent to 8.8 percent, though participation also jumped up by 0.8 percentage points. 

The Hispanic unemployment rate fell from 6.6 percent to 6.4 percent with a small decline in participation, but the Asian unemployment rate dropped from 5.3 percent to 4.6 percent likely due to a 0.4 percentage-point decline in participation. 

The number of Americans who have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer, known as the “long-term unemployed,” also dropped from 3.4 million to roughly 3.2 million. Those who suffer long-term unemployment often struggle to return to work and are hired at lower rates than those without long periods of joblessness.

Upward revisions to

The numbers: Businesses in the U.S. created a lackluster 374,000 new jobs in August, a new ADP survey found, suggesting the delta strain of the coronavirus depressed hiring last month.

Read: Consumer confidence sinks to 6-month low on delta anxiety and high inflation

The increase in private-sector jobs was weaker than expected. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 600,000 gain.

ADP sometimes acts as an early-warning system of sorts for the government’s more comprehensive employment survey that comes out a few days later. Yet the two reports also diverge quite sharply from time to time and that’s been especially true during the pandemic.

In July, for example, ADP said 326,000 private-sector jobs were created. The Labor Department reported a much larger 703,000 increase.

Read: Inflation in the U.S. is running at the highest level in 30 years

Big picture: Forget the month-to-month differences between the ADP and Labor Department job reports. Both show a big increase in private-sector employment since May — more than 2 million new jobs.

It’s no surprise. Companies have a record number of job openings to fill and they are trying to hire workers in anticipation that the latest coronavirus flareup will fade.

To be sure, the delta variant has spurred companies to exercise more caution, especially restaurants and other businesses that deal face to face to customers. And it’s caused some consumers to avoid large crowds again.

That probably helps explains the somewhat slow in hiring in August, a notoriously fickle month to assess because so many people go on vacation..

Yet by and large, the economy has held up well and it’s still growing at a fairly strong pace. Hiring is likely to acclerate if delta cases start to decline in the next few months.

Key details: The biggest increase in hiring took place in leisure and hospitality. Hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and the like added 201,000 jobs. That’s up from 138,000 in July.

That’s the sector that should have experienced the brunt of delta, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case.

Jobs in education and health care rose by 59,000. And construction companies increased payrolls by 30,000.

The rest of the new jobs were scattered across a variety of industries such as manufacturing, finance, transportation and professional work.

Mid-sized businesses created 149,000 new jobs, followed by 130,000 at large companies

Small businesses, which have been hurt the most by the pandemic, only added 86,000 new jobs, ADP said.

The U.S. Labor Department on Friday is expected to report that the economy generated 720,000 new jobs in August. These figures include employment at local, state and the federal government.

Another strong report could nudge the Federal Reserve to move up its plans to start unwinding its easy-money strategy meant to prop up the economy. The central bank has said it plans to do so before the end of the year.

What they are saying? Job growth remains inextricably tied to the path of the pandemic,” said Mark

Businesses’ payrolls rose by 374,000 last month, after a revised gain of 326,000 in July, according to ADP Research Institute data.

By Bloomberg

U.S. companies added fewer jobs than expected in August, reflecting persistent hiring challenges and suggesting a slowdown in the labor market recovery.

Businesses’ payrolls increased by 374,000 last month, after a revised 326,000 gain in July, according to ADP Research Institute data released Wednesday. The figure fell short of all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The weaker-than-expected hiring gain suggests firms are still struggling to attract applicants and fill a record number of vacant positions. At the same time, the delta variant could present additional headwinds to hiring if consumer spending on services like dining out pulls back meaningfully.

Service-provider employment increased 329,000 in August. Payrolls at leisure and hospitality businesses advanced 201,000 during the month. Employment at goods producers was up 45,000, led by a 30,000 jump in construction.

“The delta variant of Covid-19 appears to have dented the job market recovery,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “Job growth remains strong, but well off the pace of recent months.”

The combined payroll gain in July and August was the slowest since the start of the year, according to ADP.

The figures come just before the government’s monthly jobs report, and economists expect private payrolls to advance by 652,000 in August. The unemployment rate is projected to fall to 5.2% as participation improves.

The increase in August payrolls was broad across firm sizes. Companies with 500 or more workers added 138,000 while small businesses took on 86,000.

ADP’s payroll data represent firms employing nearly 26 million workers in the U.S.

Riddle me this: How is it that the economy is still down almost six million jobs from its peak before the pandemic struck, yet there is a record over 10 million open job positions?

It has arguably never been easier for workers to find jobs, or so difficult for businesses to find the workers they need. What gives, and how long will it continue?

The immediate explanation lies in the rapid reopening of the economy earlier this year as vaccinations became widely distributed and most of us more-or-less stopped sheltering in place. It seemed as if every business in the country hung out a help-wanted sign at the same time, especially in the restaurant, entertainment, and travel industries.

The problem is that it’s been difficult for those who lost jobs early in the pandemic and are now either unemployed or out of the workforce altogether to get back to work. They are not even counted as unemployed.

» READ MORE: Unemployment remains high, yet many businesses say they can’t find enough workers

Top of the list in this group are parents at home taking care of children who have been going to school online. There are almost six million parents in this situation, according to the Census Bureau.

It is critical for schools to reopen for in-person learning in the next few weeks. So far it looks as if they will, but the surging number of infections and hospitalizations caused by the delta variant of COVID-19 is a serious threat. If schools don’t reopen in-person or are forced to send students back home again due to outbreaks, parents will have little choice but to stay home too and not go to work.

Almost five million people say they are home and unable to work because they are either sick from the virus, taking care of someone who is sick, or taking care of elderly parents who in many cases were taken from a nursing facility for fear of the virus. An additional three million-plus people are worried that they might contract COVID-19 or spread it if they go back to work.

Of course, these numbers go up and down with waves of the virus. They are high and rising now given the rapid spread of the delta variant, but ultimately they will wane with the pandemic.

This is one more compelling reason everyone needs to get vaccinated. The longer there are a lot of vaccine holdouts, the longer the pandemic will drag on, and the longer it will take to get people back to work and the economy fully up and running.

Then there are the nearly nine million people who because of the pandemic are temporarily laid off or aren’t working because their employer closed temporarily or is out of business. These workers could take other open positions, but doing so takes time to figure out as workers rearrange their commutes, their work hours, and their child-care needs so they can handle the new job.

Low on the list

(The Center Square) – Industry projections suggest Iowa will recover most of the nonfarm jobs lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by the fourth quarter of 2021, and the economy will start to grow in 2022, according to a new report.

“While the Iowa Economy isn’t back to a pre-pandemic level yet, our economy has shown definite signs of recovery and most economic data produced by our Labor Market Information (LMI) Division show for now our economy is trending in the right direction,” Deputy Director of Iowa Workforce Development and Labor Market Information Director Ryan West said in the report, 2021 Iowa’s Workforce and the Economy, which was released Thursday by the department.

The leisure and hospitality sector was “unquestionably the most affected among all groups as social-distancing measures were implemented,” the report said. The sector lost 66,900 jobs – 46.1 percent of its payroll jobs – by April 2020.

“This was unsurprising as bars and restaurants were among the first businesses to have restrictions implemented,” the report said. “Additionally, entertainment and recreational industries trended down as many parts of the country asked residents to avoid non-essential trips.”

The food services and drinking places subsector, which includes the restaurant industry, held 87,135 jobs in 2020, a 14.9 percent decrease from 102,375 in 2019.

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Iowa Restaurant Association President and CEO Jessica Dunker told The Center Square in a phone interview that “half” of the restaurants in Iowa are not yet serving at capacity due to workforce shortages. She said that she does not foresee another shutdown for indoor dining in Iowa, but if that were to happen, the industry would see more closures because restaurants wouldn’t be able to afford to stay open – or have “the will” to stay open, as the last 18 months have dealt the industry “a crushing blow.”

“We’ve taken all we can bear at this point,” she said. “We have so appreciated the state programs and the federal programs that have rolled out to help us, but those programs have not made us whole. They’ve just helped us get to the other side.”

Labor participation continues to increase, while the state’s unemployment rate rose 4.0 percent to 4.1 percent from June to July, compared with 6.1 percent in July 2020, Iowa Workforce Development said in its July report, released August 20. Last month, there were 800 more unemployed Iowans looking for work and 5,700 “newly employed” Iowans since June (55,400 higher than July 2020), bringing the Iowa labor force to 1.59 million and the participation rate up 0.3 percentage points, to 66.9%, the agency said.

“From May to July we saw an increase of 175 percent in the number of people visiting our IowaWORKS job centers to take active steps towards finding work, and that trend has continued in August,” Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said in the July report. “As we’ve seen over the past few months, Iowans are re-entering the labor force in increasing numbers, and this