Department of Labor data released for August was “disappointing,” according to Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.
“The data shows the United States’ recovery from the pandemic is continuing but at a slower pace,” Mace wrote in a blog post Friday.
The increase in the delta variant of COVID-19 could be responsible for part of the slowing month-to-month job growth, according to the economist.
âCompanies can delay hiring and workers can delay taking on jobs due to increased fear of the delta variant,â Mace wrote. “Employment levels continued to contract for nursing homes, which fell by 7,100 jobs to 1,364,000 seasonally adjusted and down from levels of 1,464,600 a year earlier.”
The encouraging news, she said, is that the number of long-term unemployed has fallen from 246,000 to 3.2 million; these are workers who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. However, this number is significantly higher than at the start of the pandemic; 2.1 million more than in February 2020.
âThe participation rate, which is a measure of the share of working-age people who are employed or looking for work, was stable at 61.7% in August and remained in a narrow range of 61 , 4% to 61.7% since June 2020, âthe economist wrote. âMany workers have left the workforce since the pandemic started caring for family members or out of fear of working and catching the virus.â