The nation’s corporate media have mostly downplayed or ignored the U.S. economy’s remarkable performance following the COVID-19 lockdowns earlier this year. They have completely ignored how pandemic-related economic restrictions in many states have prevented the ongoing recovery from being even stronger.
In just five months, the unemployment rate has fallen by 45 percent from its April peak of 14.7 percent, and the economy has also regained just over half of the 22.2 million jobs lost in March and April. This is a far better performance than most economists expected. Media outlets far and wide, and even the Congressional Budget Office, originally predicted that it would take ten years for the economy to fully recover.
The government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) told us on Oct. 2 that the nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September was 7.9 percent (down from 8.4 percent in August), and that the economy added 661,000 jobs during the month.
Both CNBC and the Associated Press emphasized that September’s job additions were a sharp drop from the nearly 1.5 million jobs added in August. Both outlets failed to tell readers how volatile government hiring affected these results.
In August, 1.02 million jobs were added in the private sector while government employment increased by 467,000. September saw an increase of 877,000 jobs in the private sector and 216,000 jobs lost in government, primarily in local education. Coming in just 14 percent lower than August, September’s private-sector result was hardly the major “loss of momentum” CNBC and the AP claimed.
Recent government data tells us we are seeing two recoveries. Most states have seen moderate to significant improvements in conditions since April, but ten states, in particular, have not.
While August’s jobless rate was 8.4 percent, the following ten states, according to the BLS’s Sept. 18 detailed report, turned in results above 10 percent. Most of the laggards were well above that double-digit threshold:
California: 11.4 percent
Hawaii: 12.5 percent
Illinois: 11.0 percent
Massachusetts: 11.3 percent
New Jersey: 10.9 percent
New Mexico: 11.3 percent
Nevada: 13.2 percent
New York: 12.5 percent
Pennsylvania: 10.3 percent
Rhode Island: 12.8 percent