The economy added 1.8 million jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent. This latest jobs report indicates that we have a long way to go to recover from the pandemic job losses but our economy is making progress.

Coronavirus continues to ravish the labor market. While some states have continued on phased reopenings, allowing more workers to return to their jobs, other states have imposed new lockdowns and restrictions on businesses.

Policymakers are watching this report closely as Washington negotiates a new coronavirus stimulus bill. 

Key Takeaways

  • There were 1.4 million fewer unemployed workers (down to 16.3 million).
  • 1.3 million temporarily laid-off workers went back to work.
  • Part-time workers rose by over 800,000.
  • Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 592,000, accounting for about one-third of the total employment gains.
  • Bars and restaurants added 502,000 jobs, but despite gains over the last 3 months, these jobs are down by 2.6 million since February. 
  • Retail trade, a big employer for women, added 258,000 jobs with nearly half of this job gain occurring in clothing and clothing accessories stores. 
  • Employment in May and June combined was 17,000 jobs higher than previously reported.

Why It Matters

Congress and the White House are in negotiations for another massive stimulus package that reportedly could include another round of stimulus checks to American households and the extension of an extra $600 unemployment benefit. 

The added $600 benefit is a major sticking point between conservative and liberal lawmakers. It gave many workers more than they earned before losing their jobs, creating a disincentive to return to their jobs or to seek out new ones.

A Challenge for Parents

The challenge of childcare is a hurdle to workers in the labor force. Moms and dads who may want to return to their workplaces struggle to find childcare options. Schools have been closed since the Spring, but traditional options such as summer camps and older relatives are not possible. Many daycares have also permanently shutdown leaving parents with few choices other than to stay at home with their children.

As we look ahead to the fall, online learning replacing in-school teaching will continue to force parents to make difficult work choices.

Now more than ever, we need flexible work options for American workers.