Jobs Report to Show Hiring Squeeze 12/04 06:17
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Friday's monthly U.S. jobs report will help answer a key
question overhanging the economy: Just how much damage is being caused by the
resurgent coronavirus, the resulting curbs on businesses and the reluctance of
consumers to shop, travel and dine out?
Economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet have forecast that
employers added 450,000 jobs in November. In normal times, that would be a
healthy increase. But a gain that size would amount to the weakest monthly
hiring since April. The unemployment rate is projected to drop one-tenth of a
percentage point to 6.8%.
The Labor Department will issue the November jobs report at 8:30 a.m.
A loss of momentum in hiring would weaken the economy at a particularly
perilous time. A multi-trillion-dollar aid package that Congress approved in
the spring to ease the economic damage from the pandemic has largely run its
course. Two enhanced unemployment benefit programs are set to expire at the end
of this month --- just as virus cases accelerate and colder weather shuts down
outdoor dining and public events. The end of those programs would leave an
estimated 9 million people without any jobless aid, state or federal.
U.S. deaths from the coronavirus topped 3,100 Wednesday, a new daily high,
with more than 100,000 Americans hospitalized with the disease, also a record,
and new confirmed daily cases topping 200,000. In the past month, at least 12
states have imposed new restrictions on businesses, according to an Associated
Press tally. Health officials are urging Americans to avoid all but essential
So far, the economy has regained only about 12 million of the 22 million
jobs that were shed in March and April after the virus struck. Hiring has
slowed for four straight months. A continuation of that trend would make it
harder to heal the scars that the virus left on the job market, including the
growing number of people who have been unemployed for at least six months.
Those long-term jobless now make up one-third of the unemployed, up from
one-fifth in September and the highest level in six years.
Most economists, along with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have called
on Congress to approve another stimulus package to carry the economy into the
spring, until a vaccine is widely distributed that would allow economic
activity to start returning to normal.
For now, there are signs that the economic recovery is stumbling. Consumer
spending grew in October at the slowest pace in six months. Seated diners at
restaurants are declining again, according to data from the reservations
website OpenTable. And a Fed report on business conditions found that growth
cooled last month in several Midwest regions and in the Fed's Philadelphia
Still, the full impact of the worsening pandemic may not be evident in
Friday's jobs report, which measures hiring trends in the middle of the month.
Some state restrictions weren't imposed until later in November.
David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide, said he thinks the worst
consequences of the pandemic won't appear until the December jobs report is
issued in early January.
The November report "will be the last hurrah for the next several months,"