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And R. Everyone stays in Cardiff here, this is the indicator from Planet Money and today's Jobs Friday, and so we have been wondering if it's time to bring back an old celebratory tradition from Jobs Friday's.
It's true. The air horn. The air horn. I know we stopped blowing the jobs day air horn when the pandemic struck because things were so awful and so many people were losing their jobs.
So the question now is, I mean, have they improved enough that we should resume the tradition? Yeah, I'm leaning yes or at least yes ish. OK, because today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report for the month of August, and it showed that the economy created one point four million new jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell from ten point two percent to eight point four percent. That's the first time the unemployment rate has fallen below 10 percent out of double digits since the pandemic started.
So we can only say, Stacey, that the numbers are trending in the right direction.
I mean, that's a good argument for like a relative air horn. But I mean, there's this, like, huge downside, as you know. I mean, first of all, remember that a lot of the money that was supporting the economy from the big stimulus bill started expiring at the end of July. That was right before the data for today's jobs report was collected. So the report might not yet be capturing how that lost support will affect the labour market.
And also, even though the labour market is improving, the pace of that improvement has actually slowed down. The number of jobs created was smaller in August than in July, and that is the second straight month there has been a decline in the number of jobs created.
Those are all excellent points. All true. I cannot argue with any of that. Things are definitely still not great, but I think I'm going to call it anyway, Stacey, just because, like, we have missed Horn, you know, I don't know.
I have mixed feelings, but I'll give it to you. Maybe we can modify it a little like a relative, I guess. Softer than usual er on whatever. Just give us the air horn. Give us the horn please.
Give us the air horn. Oh, that felt great to admit that that was that was cathartic. Yeah, I think our three guests today are also excited about it.
Yes, we have brought back our jobs day ninja squad, three economists, Nick Bunker, Martha Gimble and Ben Ajala, who analyze and break down the details of the jobs report every month like it's their job, because in many ways you could see it is their job.
Yeah, it's a part of their job for sure. So after a quick break, Nick, Martha and Mbenga each are going to share with us one big takeaway from today's jobs report. And also, Stacey, as one of our three ninjas will remind us, today's jobs Friday happens to coincide with the birthday of a very important musician musician. Oh, yeah. Is going to send us off into the long Labor Day weekend.
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OK, first up on our roster of Jobs Day Ninja's is Nick Bunker. Nick is an economist at the indeed Hiring Lab..
So, Nick, what are you choosing to highlight from today's jobs report? So the indicator that I want to focus on is the level of employment in August compared to what we saw back in February.
February was the last month before the pandemic started devastating the U.S. labor market. So even though the labor market has improved in recent months, Nix's we need to go back to February to see how much improvement it still needs to make before it's back to where it was.
While we've had few reports in a row, now we're adding millions of jobs. We're still down more than 11 million jobs than we saw back in February. So progress is being made, but the labor market is still in a really big hole.
To understand this another way, there are still seven point six percent fewer jobs now than there were in February. And we can see how bad that is by comparing it to the damage that was caused by the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, which remember was itself an absolutely horrible recession that took years to recover from. And back then, at the absolute bottom of the labor market in that recession, Nick points out there were only six percent fewer jobs than before the recession started.
So that hit right now to labor market is still larger than the worst period during the Great Recession.
A sobering thought about how long there's still left to go. OK, next up, our next Jobs Day Ninja is Martha Gimble, who is senior manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures.
So my indicator from this jobs report is 50 percent, that is the percent decrease in employment that the motion picture and sound recording industry has experienced since February.
Martha analyzed the employment situation in all the major economic industries, and the movie and music industry was the one with the most lingering damage from the pandemic.
And you looked at other industries that are also really struggling to bounce back to see what they all had in common performing arts and spectator sports, scenic and sightseeing, transportation and accommodation.
A lot of these industries fall into leisure activities or travel activities.
And I think it's really important to emphasize that these are jobs that we all want to be there. On the other side of this, like I don't know about you, but at some point when this is over, I want to go see a movie. I want to go to a play. I want to take a trip.
Yeah, me too. Yeah, I know. Martha says a lot of times people are too dismissive of workers in the arts, arguing that maybe they should get trained for a new job or that they should switch careers. This really bothers her. A lot of those workers have trained for years and even the jobs that they often take to support themselves as servers and bartenders, for example, have also been really hit hard by the pandemic.
Whenever this is over, we want those people to be doing those jobs again.
And so it's not as simple as just saying, well, they should all retrain and find new jobs even if they could find new jobs.
I also do want to point out the irony in all of us being dismissive about the real economic suffering that the arts industry is going through right now while we're all stuck at home watching everything that Netflix can give us.
That is a really good point, I think is a really good story. You know, maybe we should be more grateful.
And now, Card, if you have promised us some kind of reveal here, a musician who is celebrating a birthday today, apparently.
Yes. And I guess the person who is going to give us this final surprise is our third jobs day, Ninja Benga Ajala. He is a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a think tank that's being Beyonce's birthday.
And I'd be remiss not to talk about black women's unemployment beyond say, oh, yeah, who doesn't want to celebrate the birthday of Beyonce and on jobs day?
What a great coincidence. No, Benga says the reason he is looking at the unemployment rate for black women is that their struggles are especially indicative of what's happening to the labor market now and especially the struggles that a lot of parents are facing in juggling their work at the same time is watching their kids or taking care of elderly parents or relatives who are sick with covid.
You look at child care that because child care is not over, because schools are not reopening, that we have some sort of hybrid system or doing virtual learning that the burden, the onus falls on women and especially black women who tend to be head of households.
In August, the unemployment rate for black women was still at an extremely high 12 percent. That's higher than the ten point five percent unemployment rate for Hispanic women and much higher than the seven point three percent unemployment rate for white women.
And even though the August jobs are. Seems like it was pretty good overall, Bengoa was disappointed to see that the labor force participation rate for black women did not increase.
And so what that says is that even though the economy is, quote unquote, recovering, that they are still out of the labor market because they have these other burdens, these other bonuses that they have to take care of for that household.
These racial gaps have been persistent, Mbenga says. And it's important to keep in mind these details within the jobs report. Whenever we look at the overall economic picture and not forget them, we want to wish our listeners a restful and safe Labor Day weekend.
And we asked Benga for a Beyonce recommendation to close out the show while the jobs numbers and what's been happening has been kind of depressing. And so Black Parade is something that's pretty uplifting. I like to listen to.
Yes, please wish. Granted, let's hear some black parade on the way out of the show. This episode, they indicated, was produced by Autumn Barnes, in fact, check by Britney Kronin, our editors Paddy Hirsch, and the indicator is a production of NPR. Michael, I am that this is not a about of. Lekarev.