WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth likely slowed further in August as financial assistance from the government ran out, threatening the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession.
FILE PHOTO: Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday would come as companies from transportation to manufacturing industries announce layoffs or furloughs. It could add pressure on the White House and Congress to restart stalled negotiations for another fiscal package, and will likely become political ammunition for both Democrats and Republicans with just two months to go until the presidential election.
Programs to help businesses pay wages have either lapsed or are on the verge of ending. A $600 weekly unemployment supplement expired in July. Economists credited government largesse for the sharp rebound in economic activity after it nearly ground to a halt following the shuttering of businesses in mid-March to control the spread of the coronavirus.
“The pandemic has really torn our economic and social fabric,” said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “The ending of the fiscal stimulus has not helped the situation.”
According to a Reuters survey of economists nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 1.4 million jobs last month, with some of the anticipated gains coming from hiring for the 2020 Census. Employment increased 1.763 million in July and its growth peaked at 4.791 million in June.
Friday’s report is one of just two monthly labor market scorecards left on the calendar before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
President Donald Trump, who is trailing in polls behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, is likely to tout the continued job gains as a sign that the economy is improving after suffering its biggest shock in at least 73 years in the second quarter.
But employment would still be about 11.5 million below its pre-pandemic level. Most of the job gains have been workers being recalled from furloughs or temporary layoffs. Though new COVID-19 infections have subsided after a broad resurgence through the summer, many hot spots remain.
United Airlines (UAL.O) said on Wednesday it was preparing to furlough 16,370 workers on Oct. 1. American Airlines (AAL.O) has announced its workforce would shrink by 40,000, including 19,000 involuntary cuts. Ford Motor Co (F.N) said it was targeting 1,400 U.S. salaried jobs for elimination by year end. Mass transit rail operators are also eying furloughs.
A report this week from the Federal Reserve based on information collected from the U.S. central bank’s contacts on or before Aug. 24 showed an increase in employment. The Fed, however, noted that “some districts also reported slowing job growth and increased hiring volatility, particularly in service industries, with rising instances of furloughed workers being laid off permanently as demand remained soft.”
“Restaurants and other businesses in the…