US adds 638,000 jobs in October, unemployment drops to 6.9%

Business

FILE – In this April 30 ,2020 file photo, a barber shop shows closed and hiring sign during the COVID-19 in Chicago. On Thursday, Aug. 27, just over 1 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten jobs even as the housing market, auto sales and other segments of the economy rebound from a springtime collapse. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — U.S. employers added 638,000 jobs in October, a solid pace though far fewer than needed to regain most of the jobs lost to the pandemic recession.

The gain suggested that a tentative economic recovery may remain intact even in the face of a viral outbreak but U.S. employers slowed their hiring in October for a fourth straight month.

The report Friday from the Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 6.9% from 7.9% in September. Since April, the jobless rate has tumbled from a peak of 14.7%. But eight months after the virus struck the United States, the economy still has recovered barely half the 22 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic.

The report said unemployment rates declined among all major worker groups in October including adult men, women, teenagers, Blacks and Hispanics.

The economy, which had rebounded sharply in the July-September quarter as businesses reopened from virus-related shutdowns, is now expanding more slowly. Many businesses, especially restaurants and bars that had made use of outdoor seating, face a dim future as the weather turns colder. Consumers may also pull back again on shopping, traveling and other activities to avoid contracting the virus.

Friday’s report follows the expiration of government stimulus for struggling individuals, businesses and state and local governments and the failure of Congress to provide further aid.

Consumer spending on services like restaurants, health care and haircuts is rising much more slowly this fall after having rebounded in May and June. It remains 7% below the pre-pandemic level — a decline that threatens many labor-intensive parts of the economy. The restaurant reservations website OpenTable shows, for example, that just three-quarters of restaurants are now taking reservations, a decline from three weeks ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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