WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added 661,000 jobs in September, the third straight month of slower hiring and evidence from the final jobs report before the presidential election that the economic recovery has weakened.
With September’s hiring gain, the economy has recovered only slightly more than half the 22 million jobs that were wiped out by the viral pandemic.
Nearly 10 million jobs remain lost — more than were shed during the entire 2008-2009 Great Recession.
And the pattern of slower hiring will delay a full recovery of jobs: Compared with September’s more modest gain, employers added nearly 1.5 million jobs in August, 1.8 million in July and 4.8 million in June.
The unemployment rate fell last month to 7.9% from 8.4% in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Since April, the rate has tumbled from 14.7%.
But last month’s drop in joblessness reflected mainly a drop in the number of people seeking work, rather than a surge in hiring.
The government doesn’t count people as unemployed if they aren’t actively looking for a job.