10 Numbers That Sum Up The Plight Of American Workers This Labor Day


Despite new data released Friday by the Labor Department showing modest job gains in August, the U.S. economy has a long way to go before it regains pre-pandemic employment levels. The rate of job recovery has slowed significantly since June, in part due to the expiration of a raft of stimulus measures from the CARES Act in March. 

Millions of Americans remain unemployed, and while some sectors—like education, retail, and healthcare—are showing signs of bouncing back, others—like travel and hospitality—are facing an uncertain future. 

Here are ten numbers that sum up the strained American job market right now. 

13.6 million

That’s how many people are unemployed right now, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. 

1.4 million

That’s how many jobs the U.S. added in August, down significantly from the 4.8 million new jobs added in June but not far off the 1.8 million new additions in July.


That’s the portion of August’s job gains that are attributable to temporary Census jobs that will disappear again in the coming weeks. 

6.2 million

That’s the number of people who reported that they have been laid off temporarily in August, down from a high of 18.1 million in April but still significantly higher than the 2.7 million in February. And 3.4 million people reported that they had been laid off permanently last month. 

11.5 million

That’s how many jobs have yet to be recovered since February, despite the modest gains over the summer. 


That’s the current unemployment rate, down from a peak of 14.7% in April. During the Great Recession, the unemployment rate peaked at 10.6%. Before the coronavirus crisis, the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low of 3.5% in February. 


That’s how many jobs United Airlines said it would cut in October when federal funding from the CARES Act runs out. American Airlines will cut 19,000 jobs that month for the same reason. 

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