Reassuring rebound in employment in the United States in October

The United States experienced a reassuring rebound in the labor market in October: the country created 531,000 jobs this month while the unemployment rate fell from 4.8 to 4.6%, according to figures released on Friday November 5 by the Ministry of Labor. President Joe Biden immediately rejoiced, as Congress is due to vote on his infrastructure and social plans in the afternoon: “This is a significant improvement since I took office and a sign that we are on the right track”, the president tweeted.

Above all, the Ministry of Labor revised upwards the figures for the previous two months, which had earned Mr. Biden strong criticism of his economic policy. The months of August and September, marked by anemia of the recovery due to the Delta variant and economic bottlenecks, were not as bad as we thought: job creation was revised to the increase for September and August, standing at 312,000 and 483,000 instead of the 194,000 and 366,000 announced, or 235,000 better than expected.

A tortuous return

The country remains below the 640,000 jobs created each month until between January and July but it is in a dynamic compatible with the analysis of the Federal Reserve (Fed): the central bank estimates that the recovery was broken in August by the delta variant and the bottlenecks, both of which will gradually be reduced but only in the course of 2022 and inflation will recede in stride. The rate of teleworking due to covid fell significantly by 1.6 points, to 11.6% of the workforce. Wages have risen sharply by 4.9% over one year, approaching the level of inflation (5.4% in September).

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In total, 154 million Americans have a job, or 4.7 million less than in February 2020. Unemployment, which had jumped beyond 14% in the spring of 2020 remains higher than that prevailing before the crisis (3, 8%).

According to the Peterson Institute, this decline in labor force participation is explained by the aging of the population at 27%, 23% by the high level of unemployment and half by other reasons, not scientifically explained.

The Americans’ return to employment remains tortuous. Former Bill Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Reich recently estimated that American workers had engaged in an “unofficial general strike” by refusing to accept the 11 million open job offers. The reality is a little more complex. The working population has stabilized at 61.6% against 63.4% before the pandemic.

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