US President Donald Trump has congratulated himself on a “much better than expected” unemployment rate in August.
Mr Trump was tweeting on Friday after the US Department of Labor announced that the US unemployment rate had fallen from 10.2% in July to 8.4%.
He wrote: “Great Jobs Numbers! 1.37 Million Jobs Added In August. Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.4% (Wow, much better than expected!). Broke the 10% level faster and deeper than thought possible.”
Great Jobs Numbers! 1.37 Million Jobs Added In August. Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.4% (Wow, much better than expected!). Broke the 10% level faster and deeper than thought possible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020
Mr Trump needs good economic figures right now – his Democratic rival Joe Biden is leading him in many polls ahead of November’s presidential election.
But he did not mention that the number of jobs added in August was the smallest since the coronavirus pandemic began – down from the 1.7 million added during July.
Some 22 million jobs were lost to the pandemic and only about half of them have been recovered.
Mark Hamrick, chief economist at Bankrate.com, said: “As we look now at the figures that have been accumulating, we still have to make back more than 11 million jobs just to get us back to where we were before.”
Guy Foster, head of research at wealth manager Brewin Dolphin, said: “US employment growth looks in good shape with over a million more jobs created during the month of August and the momentum likely to have lasted beyond this report based upon the sharp decline in continuing jobless claims reported yesterday (unlikely to be captured by this survey).
“The fly in the ointment will be the resumed rise in permanent unemployment. Most of the change here is people on temporary layoffs but the permanent layoffs are creeping up again.
Neil Williams, Senior Economic Adviser, International at Federated Hermes, said the unemployment figures were “becoming less awful” as furloughed workers returned.
“But, even if jobs continue to be clawed back at this pace, it would take another nine months for the 12 million workers displaced since February to return. This delay may not be too helpful, politically, to a president seeking re-election.
“This assumes a full and consistent rehiring, and return of the millions disappearing from the workforce, but not registered as unemployed. The ‘under-employment’ rate, which includes those not searching, but wanting to work or work more, still over 14%, may be even slower to fall. And as we know from 2007-09, rapid job losses do not guarantee the sharpest recoveries.”
It comes after a rocky few days in the US markets, which had reached record highs only to tumble on Thursday, weighed down by falling tech stocks.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq suffered their worst day in nearly three months, with losses continuing for Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others in Friday trading.
Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York, said: “Today you’re seeing participants trying to test whether yesterday’s sell-off is going to turn out to be something that has more to it or it was just a one-day selling pressure.”