The US economy added just 1.8 million jobs in July as the pace of the economic recovery slowed following skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 cases in states like Texas and Florida.
The gains helped the unemployment rate tick down to 10.2 percent from 11.1 percent in June, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. And they beat Wall Street’s expectations for just 1.48 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of 10.6 percent.
Still, the July data shows that opportunities for work slowed in July from the previous two months when more than 7.5 million jobs were added to the economy — marking the fastest two-month rise in history. The economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June before case numbers began to sharply rise in parts of the country.
Friday’s numbers offer the first look at the economy following the virus’s resurgence in California, Texas and Florida, which were forced to shutter bars and restaurant dining rooms for a second time after attempting to reopen.
A separate report on Thursday showed that 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week — the 20th consecutive week of more than 1 million people filing for the benefits. The figures represented a 249,000 dip in jobless claims from the week prior, but the report also showed that long-term unemployment claims saw their highest-ever weekly spike.
The numbers arrive a week after the US economy suffered its worst blow since the Great Depression, with the Commerce Department reporting that the nation’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced here — shrank 9.5 percent from the first quarter.
The plunge is unmatched in historical data from the National Bureau of Economic Research going back to 1875.
The most recent period that came anywhere close was a roughly 7.2 percent contraction in the last quarter of 1937, in the late stages of the Great Depression.