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Hiring still slow in US as Covid surge disrupts recovery

Washington, Oct 9 (IANS) US employers added fewer-than-expected 194,000 jobs in September, as the labour market recovery has remained slow amid a Delta variant-fuelled Covid-19 surge, the Labour Department said in a report.

The latest data released on Friday followed upwardly revised job gains of 366,000 in August. In July, job gains were over 1 million, reports Xinhua news agency.

Thus far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 561,000, according to the report.

In September, job gains were notable in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in retail trade, and in transportation and warehousing, the report showed. Employment in public education, meanwhile, declined over the month.

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 74,000 in September, with continued job growth in arts, entertainment, and recreation. Employment in food services and drinking places changed little for the second consecutive month.

Meanwhile, employment in retail trade rose by 56,000 in September, following two months of little change, the report showed.

Employment decreased by 144,000 in local government education and by 17,000 in state government education in the month, and employment fell by 19,000 in private education.

Employment in healthcare declined by 18,000 in September, with job losses occurring in nursing and residential care facilities and hospitals, according to the Labour Department.

The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 4.8 per cent in September, after dropping by 0.2 percentage points in the previous month.

The measure was down considerably from its recent high in April 2020, but remained well above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of unemployed persons fell by 710,000 to 7.7 million, well above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 million, said the Department.

Among the unemployed, the number of people who lost permanent jobs declined by 236,000 to 2.3 million in September but is 953,000 higher than in February 2020.

The number of persons on temporary layoff, at 1.1 million, changed little in September, and is 374,000 above the pre-pandemic level.

The labour force participation rate ticked down to 61.6 per cent in September, the report showed, noting that it has remained within a narrow range of 61.4 per cent to 61.7 per cent since June 2020.