Assistance, Please

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What's going on?

The US economy added a better-than-expected 943,000 jobs in July, but employers still can’t seem to find enough staff to turn this into a real honeymoon period.

What does this mean?

Even more hotels, bars, and hotel bars reopened their doors last month, so it was no surprise to see the leisure and hospitality sector responsible for the biggest increase in jobs numbers: 380,000 of them, to be precise. And while we’re on good news, the unemployment rate dropped by half a percentage point to hit a post-pandemic low of 5.4%.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: there are still almost 6 million fewer jobs than there were before the outbreak, and employers are struggling to fill a record number of vacant positions (tweet this). That’s urging them to woo new starters with higher wages and signing bonuses – so much so that average hourly earnings rose for the second month in a row.

Why should I care?

For markets: Bond investors aren’t pleased.
These strong figures presumably mark a step toward the Federal Reserve’s (the Fed’s) goal of “substantial” progress in the labor market’s recovery. That might lead the Fed to start thinking seriously about scaling back its $120 billion-a-month bond-buying program. And since that would eliminate a major source of demand for US government bonds, investors sold them off on Friday.

The bigger picture: All play, no work.
For all the efforts to win over job hunters, the labor force participation rate – a measure of the share of Americans who are employed or looking for work – barely moved last month. There could be a few reasons for that: would-be employees might be nervous about catching the virus, they might have more demanding childcare responsibilities than before the pandemic, or they might just be getting more generous unemployment benefits than the money they’d earn working for a living.

Originally posted as part of the Finimize daily email.

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