U.S. adds nearly 5 million jobs in June, beating expectations, but pandemic concerns cloud recovery.

A remarkably good jobs report today from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million in June, and the unemployment rate
declined to 11.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In June, employment in leisure and hospitality rose sharply.
Notable job gains also occurred in retail trade, education and health services, other
services, manufacturing, and professional and business services.

The reports comes amidst concerns about a spike in coronavirus cases.The Associated Press reports,

While the jobless rate was down from 13.3% in May, it is still at a Depression-era level. And the data was gathered during the second week of June, before a number of states began to reverse or suspend the reopenings of their economies to try to beat back the virus.

“This is a bit of a dated snapshot at this point,” said Jesse Edgerton, an economist at J.P. Morgan Chase.

The news came as the number of confirmed infections per day in the U.S. soared to an all-time high of 50,700, more than doubling over the past month, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The last two months of positive jobs news, of course, comes nowhere close to replacing the jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic.

While the job market improved for a second straight month, the Labor Department report showed that the U.S. remains far short of regaining the colossal losses it suffered this spring. It has recouped roughly one-third of the 22 million jobs lost.

Calculated Risk offers additional perspective.

The labor market swings have been huge, and the June employment report was better than expected with 4.8 million jobs added.

Leisure and hospitality led the way with 2.088 million jobs added in June, following 1.403 million jobs added in May. Leisure and hospitality lost 8.318 million jobs in March and April, so about 42% of those jobs were added back in May and June.

However, these are the jobs most susceptible to a surge in COVID infections, and leisure and hospitality will likely be under pressure in July.

We also continue to learn more about those most impacted by job loss. The Seattle Times reports,

Where previous recessions killed jobs across many industries and demographic groups, layoffs in the COVID-19 era often have been concentrated among workers who were often behind economically before the pandemic. Among them, working moms, younger workers, and workers who are less educated, lower-paid, and non-white.

In King County, where Black residents account for around 6% of the total population, Black workers make up around 11% of recent layoffs. That’s according to a new report by Washington STEM, a Seattle-based nonprofit that has analyzed weekly, or “continuing,” claims for jobless benefits filed by unemployed workers during the pandemic.

By contrast, white residents, who make up 63% of the county’s population, have accounted for just 48% of pandemic-related unemployment, Washington STEM found.

One factor: Pandemic-related layoffs struck earliest and hardest in sectors where Black workers were already over-represented…

In King County, a third of continuous jobless claims have been filed by people with the equivalent of a high school degree or less and a median income of $36,508, according to Washington STEM and 2018 U.S. Census data. Yet that demographic group represents barely a fifth of the county population.

By contrast, workers with a graduate or professional degree, whose median income is $93,213 and who make up a fifth of the county’s workforce, filed just 7% of ongoing jobless claims, according to Washington STEM and census data.

This is in sharp contrast to the pattern during the Great Recession, the article points out. Stateline also takes a look at job losses, finding the Black professionals were also disproportionately affected by job loss.

White college graduates gained almost 900,000 jobs in the first sign of an economic recovery between April and May, while their black counterparts lost 200,000 jobs, according to a Stateline analysis of federal employment data…

Many of the lost jobs for educated black workers were in tech fields. Black professionals also lost jobs in health care, as many people postponed doctor’s visits and medical procedures to avoid exposure to the coronavirus and to keep hospitals clear for COVID-19 patients.

“Those job categories have become entry-level white-collar jobs, thus having a larger percentage of minorities,” said Mark Dean, an African American pioneer in personal computers and a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Engineering. Some of the biggest drops were in computer systems design, where black workers lost 77,000 jobs.

“Many companies have delayed or canceled computer system orders,” Dean said.

White workers lost jobs in some of the same categories, but their losses were much less as a share of their jobs. For instance, white and black workers lost about 12,000 jobs in computer systems design, but that comprised 27% of black jobs in the field, compared with 1% of white jobs.

While the jobs report was positive news – very positive – until the pandemic is under control, the recovery remains uncertain and fragile.