U.S. hiring slows; jobless rate drops below 10%

Mixed signals from the labor market on Friday, as hiring continued to slow in August but the unemployment rate dropped nearly two full percentage points to 8.4 percent.

The drop in the unemployment rate was largely due to those returning to work who had been furloughed or temporarily laid off.

The economy added more than 1.7 million jobs last month.

The retail sector hired back the most employees, with that sector being one of the few to add more jobs than it did the month before.

The rehiring came at the tail end of government payroll assistance programs that have since expired or will expire soon, leaving doubt as to how many more jobs can be restored without further aid.

Layoff and furlough announcements have been piling up across the economy this week from Ford to Coca-Cola to the airlines to manufacturing companies...with another round of government assistance nowhere in sight.

Talks have stalled in Congress as Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on the need and the size of another stimulus package.

And disparity among the job numbers remains stark: While the unemployment rate for white Americans has been cut in half since its peak in April, the rate for Blacks is still comparatively high. It fell from a peak of more than 16 percent to 13 percent during the same period – still nearly double that for whites.

As the race for the White House kicks into high gear, President Trump is likely to seize on the million or so rehires as a sign the economy is rebounding... but his Democratic rival Joe Biden will hammer home the point that the economy remains at its worse since the Great Depression.

There were at least 29 million Americans still receiving unemployment benefits through the middle of August.

Video Transcript

- Mixed signals from the labor market on Friday, as hiring continued to slow in August, but the unemployment rate dropped nearly two full percentage points to 8.4%. The drop in the unemployment rate was largely due to those returning to work who had been furloughed or temporarily laid off. The economy added more than 1.7 million jobs last month. The retail sector hired back to most employees, with that sector being one of the few to add more jobs than it did the month before.

The rehiring came at the tail end of government payroll assistance programs that have since expired or will expire soon, leaving doubt as to how many more jobs can be restored without further aid. Layoff and furlough announcements have been piling up across the economy this week, from Ford to Coca-Cola to the airlines to manufacturing companies, with another round of government assistance nowhere in sight. Talks have stalled in Congress, as Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on the need and the size of another stimulus package.

And disparity among the job numbers remains stark. While the unemployment rate for white Americans has been cut in half since its peak in April, the rate for Blacks is still comparatively high. It fell from a peak of more than 16% to 13% during the same period, still nearly double that for whites.

As the race for the White House kicks into high gear, President Trump is likely to seize on the million or so rehires as a sign the economy is rebounding. But his Democratic rival Joe Biden will hammer home the point that the economy remains at its worst since the Great Depression. There were at least 29 million Americans still receiving unemployment benefits through the middle of August.