New York (CNN Business)It’s not yet clear who will win the election, but no matter who ends up on top, one of the biggest priorities for the next administration is indeed clear: fixing America’s broken job market.
America’s jobs crisis is nowhere near over. Last month, the economy was still down 10.7 million jobs from February, before the pandemic forced businesses to shutter.
On one hand, that means nearly half of the 22 million jobs lost in the crisis have been recovered. But the pace of improvement has tapered off in recent months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ October jobs report, due on Friday at 8:30 am ET, is expected to show a further slowdown in the labor market recovery.
Economists predict the US economy added 600,000 jobs in October, down slightly from 661,000 in the prior month. That would still leave America down some 10 million jobs during the pandemic and many people without the means to make ends meet.
The unemployment rate is expected to slip to 7.7%, down from 7.9% in September — which was the nation’s highest unemployment rate on record going into a presidential election.
Wednesday’s ADP Employment Report came in far below expectations, showing private employers added only 365,000 jobs in October. Economists had expected 650,000. The ADP and government reports aren’t correlated, but experts pay attention to both for a complete picture of the labor market.
Any improvements are good news, but the recovery is far from complete and the situation isn’t looking hopeful for the jobless.
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In July, Congress let expire its bill that provided additional $600 weekly checks to unemployed Americans on top of their regular unemployment benefits. That expiration led the monthly poverty rate to increase, according to a study from Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
Meanwhile, a growing number of workers have exhausted their state benefits and rolled onto alternative government programs, such as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. As of October 10, 3.7 million people received PEUC benefits, put in place to deal with the current crisis.
The PEUC program — as well as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits for people such as the self-employed who aren’t usually eligible for them — are due to expire at the end of the year.
No matter who the next president will be, Washington needs to act fast to ensure help for those in need and get the country on track for a full jobs recovery.
— CNN’s Tami Luhby contributed to this story.