July Jobs Report: Live Updates and Analysis
The trajectory of the American economy will come into clearer view Friday morning when the government reports on hiring and unemployment in July.
Economists are looking for a gain of more than 800,000 jobs, but the data was collected in the first half of last month, before coronavirus cases caused by the Delta variant surged in many parts of the country.
While the economy and job growth overall have been strong in recent months, experts fear that the variant’s spread could undermine those gains if new restrictions become necessary. Already, some events have been canceled and many companies have pulled back from plans for employees to return to the office in September.
“A lot hangs on this report,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. “It’s been a sprint in terms of growth, but we may be moving into more of a marathon. Travel season is winding down, and the Delta variant is a big concern.”
A consensus of economists polled by Bloomberg is calling for a gain of 858,000 jobs, with a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent in June. Still, there is a wide range of estimates, from below 500,000 to more than one million hires.
One source of strength in the July figures is expected to be education, with schools gearing up after being shuttered in some cases since the pandemic hit.
Local governments added 155,000 education jobs in June, and July’s increase could be even bigger as more teachers are hired, according to Lydia Boussour, senior U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. Leisure and hospitality should also show strong growth, she said.
“The labor market outlook remains quite positive heading into the second half, but what happens on the virus front will be key to watch in terms of downside risk,” Ms. Boussour said.
Growth is expected to be more moderate in the manufacturing and construction industries, both of which have been held back by supply shortages, including high prices for lumber and a lack of semiconductors for automakers. “It would be nice to see some progress, but we don’t expect a surge there,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the hiring site Indeed.
Despite the hiring gains, many managers report difficulty in finding applicants for open positions. Jeanine Lisa Klotzkin manages an outpatient addiction treatment center in White Plains, N.Y., and has had only limited success in her search for addiction counselors.
“Normally, we’d have dozens of candidates,” she said. But six weeks after posting an online job ad, her clinic has received four applications. The positions pay $50,000 to $63,000 a year, said Ms. Klotzkin, who added: “These aren’t low-wage jobs. I don’t know where the people went.”
United Airlines said on Friday that it would require all U.S. employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus starting this fall. It was the first major airline to establish such a mandate and the latest in a small but growing number of businesses to do so.
“We have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated,” Scott Kirby, the airline’s chief executive, and Brett Hart, its president, said in a memo to their staff.
Employees will be required to upload proof of vaccination within five weeks of the Federal Drug Administration fully approving a vaccine or by Oct. 25, whichever comes first. Those who provide proof by Sept. 20 will receive a full day’s pay, excluding pilots and flight attendants who have already received a union-negotiated bonus for getting vaccinated. So far, about 90 percent of United’s pilots and 80 percent of its flight attendants have been vaccinated, the airline said.
Employees who fail to comply with the new policy will be fired. And while United will allow exceptions for religious or medical reasons, it will require documentation.
Mr. Kirby first floated the idea of a mandate at an internal town hall in January, saying that United would be “amongst the first wave of companies” to require vaccination.
Delta Air Lines requires new employees to be vaccinated, but existing employees are exempt. American Airlines is “not putting mandates in place” for employees or customers, its chief executive, Doug Parker, said in an interview with the New York Times columnist Kara Swisher.
Airlines have generally dismissed the idea of mandates for customers. Mr. Parker said in the interview that doing so would create “enormous delays.” Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said on CNBC this week that it would be “very difficult” to require customers to receive a vaccine that hasn’t yet been fully federally approved.
More on how companies are responding to the Delta variant:
CNN said on Thursday that it had fired three employees who violated its coronavirus safety protocols by going to the office unvaccinated, one of the first known examples of a major American corporation’s terminating workers for ignoring a workplace vaccination mandate.
The network has been relying on an honor system rather than requiring proof of vaccination status. “Let me be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy on this,” CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, wrote in an internal memo on Thursday.
Amazon told its corporate employees that they did not need to return to their offices until Jan. 3, pushing back a deadline that had been set for early September.
The notification to employees did not indicate any changes to Amazon’s vaccination policy, which encourages but does not mandate vaccines, or its mask policy, which allows workers at both its corporate offices and warehouses to be unmasked if they provide proof of vaccination.
BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, and Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks, said in internal memos to U.S. employees that they would postpone their mandatory return plans until early October, from September.
When BlackRock employees return to their offices in larger numbers, the money manager will introduce a hybrid policy whereby employees can work three days per week in the office and two from a remote location.
Sales are falling fast at Huawei, the Chinese tech titan that American officials have deemed a national security threat and sought doggedly to undermine.
The company said on Friday that its shrinking smartphone business caused overall revenue for the first half of the year to slide by nearly 30 percent from last year, to about $50 billion. Its net profit margin, however, was 9.8 percent, up from 9.2 percent last year.
As a closely held company, Huawei is not legally obligated to report its earnings. It publishes only a small selection of financial results, and not on a quarterly basis.
“Our aim is to survive, and to do so sustainably,” Eric Xu, one of Huawei’s deputy chairmen, said in a statement on Friday.
Over the past few years, Huawei’s ability to work with the international computer chip industry has narrowed because of a series of rules that were imposed by the Trump administration. It has become extremely hard for the company to produce the cutting-edge phones that had made it a global Goliath not long ago. Huawei denies that its products threaten any nation’s security.
The U.S. sanctions also prevent Huawei devices from running Google’s most popular apps. That has been driving away customers outside of China for awhile.
But even within China, where many Google apps have long been blocked, Huawei’s handset business is sinking quickly. In the latest quarter, for the first time in over seven years, Huawei was not one of China’s five best-selling phone brands, according to the market research firm Canalys. The top five, in order, were Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, Apple and Honor.
Honor had been a Huawei brand until it was spun out late last year to put it out of reach of the U.S. restrictions. That contributed to the drop in Huawei’s smartphone revenue, a company spokesman said.
Many parents of young children — those under 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated — say they’re unable to return to workplaces or apply for new jobs as long as there is uncertainty about when their children can safely return to full-time school or child care, reports Claire Cain Miller, a correspondent covering gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot.
“You cannot divorce the child care issue and the pandemic,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “It’s important that we don’t forget about the workers who are wrestling with this day in and day out.”
In an Indeed survey this summer, a significant share of those looking for a job said they were waiting for schools to open. Among those who were unemployed but not urgently looking, nearly one-fifth said care responsibilities were the reason. Those without college degrees were more likely to cite such a reason — and more likely to be unable to work from home or to afford nannies.
Many parents of preschool-aged children face a shortage of child care openings. One-third of child care centers never reopened, research shows; those that are still closed disproportionately served Asian, Latino and Black families. Those that opened are operating at 70 percent capacity, on average. They have struggled to hire qualified teachers; must keep classes small to limit exposure to the virus; and have raised prices to cover new health and cleaning measures.
Fall is looking increasingly uncertain. Some workplaces have paused reopening plans because of Delta, and parents worry schools may follow. Certain companies, including McDonald’s, and states, like Illinois, are trying to get ahead of this by offering child care benefits to help parents get back to work. According to Bright Horizons, the employer-based child care company, 75 companies have started offering backup child care this calendar year and others, like PayPal, have extended their pandemic expanded benefits through this year.
Economists on Wall Street and in Washington will be parsing employment data Friday for any hint at whether workers are prodded back into the labor market as federal unemployment insurance benefits are cut off.
This will be the first jobs report that may reflect an increase in labor supply and hiring from the loss of benefits, because about half of the states had ended a $300-a-week federal supplement by the time of data collection. That money expires at a federal level on Sept. 6, but some states — all but one led by Republicans — began to curtail the federally funded support in mid-June, at the tail end of that month’s labor market survey.
Friday’s report will offer only high-level numbers, figures on industries and data on demographic groups, so analysts may have to wait until state-by-state data are released in mid-August to compare the places that cut off the $300 supplement with those retaining it.
Many businesses have blamed generous unemployment benefits for inducing workers to remain out of work. That is why many states ended the benefit early. The Biden administration has been loath to say the added benefit discouraged work, but is allowing it to lapse. The infrastructure plan being considered by the Senate would be funded in part by unused appropriations for jobless benefits.
But it’s unclear to what extent the aid cutoff will prod people back into the job market. It has been difficult to judge from up-to-date data — like jobless claims — whether more workers are searching for positions as the help ends.
“So far, the claims data don’t show overwhelmingly clear evidence that there is a meaningful reaction in the labor market when states have ended the pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs,” Daniel Silver at J.P. Morgan wrote in a recent note. He added that in some places cutting off federal aid, continuing claims had fallen “more noticeably” than elsewhere.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs found little difference in the June jobs data between states that ended federal jobless benefits early and those that did not. While the cutoff in federal benefits by some states had just begun when the June survey was conducted, the prospective loss of income might have nudged workers to search for jobs.
“While workers in these states knew the policy was ending soon and could have responded pre-emptively, the full effect of expiration on official employment measures should not be fully visible until the July report,” Ronnie Walker, a Goldman economist, wrote in a research note on July 17. At the time, Goldman thought the cutoff might add as many as 150,000 jobs to the data being released Friday, based on early state-level figures.
Some economists are skeptical that the loss of benefits will greatly affect the labor market.
Deutsche Bank analysts have said the role of unemployment insurance benefits in discouraging people from returning to work seems limited.
“There is limited evidence that UI benefits have been a primary factor weighing on employment,” Matthew Luzzetti and his colleagues wrote in a recent analysis. They pointed out that job growth had been strong in low-wage sectors where employers should be competing with the benefit, and that those sectors had similar patterns in job openings relative to new hires that other sectors had shown.
Mr. Luzzetti said in an email that he did not expect the early cutoff of federal benefits in some states to have a meaningful effect on the July jobs figures.
And Luke Tilley, Wilmington Trust’s chief economist, wrote in a research note that employment numbers released by the payroll and data company ADP on Wednesday — which showed disappointing job growth — suggested that “the expiry of federal unemployment insurance benefits (which has now occurred in nearly 50 percent of states) will not be an immediate panacea for labor shortages.”
While ADP figures are often out of line with the monthly Labor Department numbers, and may be especially so this time because of seasonal adjustments, they can signal direction.
Still, many economists will watch hiring categories like leisure and hospitality this month for any sign that people are surging back to work as benefits end.
Luke Pardue, economist at the payroll platform Gusto, found in a recent analysis of the company’s data that hiring in small service businesses hadn’t been helped overall in states that ended federal benefits early — though it may have tilted toward older workers and away from teenagers.
Hybrid work could introduce a new type of inequality to the workplace: Bias against remote workers could become a new obstacle to making workplaces more diverse and inclusive, say management experts and corporate executives themselves, Sarah Kessler reports for DealBook.
Though most evidence that remote workers are at a disadvantage is anecdotal, at least one study, led by researchers at Stanford University, suggests they are less likely to be promoted than their in-office peers. In the experiment, researchers randomly assigned workers at a large travel agency in Shanghai to work remotely or in the office for nine months. Though the remote workers were 13 percent more productive, putting in more hours and making more calls per minute, they were promoted about half as often as their in-office peers.
“They can get forgotten,” said Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford and one of the study’s authors.
The result is troubling partly because the desire to work remotely isn’t evenly distributed, Dr. Bloom said. He and his research team conducted monthly surveys about remote work since May last year. As of March this year, among college-educated parents of young children, women have said they want to work from home full time around 50 percent more often than men do.
Levi Strauss & Co. said on Thursday that it agreed to buy the Beyond Yoga brand, highlighting the powerful lure of athleisure in the modern day. The company said that it expected the deal to add more than $100 million to net sales in fiscal 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The White House said on Thursday that it was aiming for half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 to be electric powered, portraying the shift to battery power as essential to keep pace with China and to fight climate change.
President Biden announced the target on Thursday as part of a plan that will also include construction of a nationwide network of charging stations, financial incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and financial aid for carmakers and suppliers to retool factories for electric vehicles.
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