WASHINGTON: US job growth slowed more than expected in September as the recovery from the COVID-19 slump shifts into lower gear amid diminishing government money and a relentless pandemic, leaving many at the risk of being permanently unemployed.
In the last monthly employment report before the Nov 3 presidential election, the Labor Department on Friday (Oct 2) said non-farm payrolls increased by 661,000 jobs last month after advancing 1.489 million in August. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 850,000 jobs were created in September.
Employment growth peaked in June when payrolls jumped by a record 4.781 million jobs.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.9 per cent in September from 8.4 per cent in August. While the jobless rate has declined from a high of 14.7 per cent in April, it has been biased down by people misclassifying themselves as being "employed but absent from work."
Friday's numbers are sure to become a political football in the race for the White House for which the economic blow from the pandemic has been a top issue.
For his part, Republican President Donald Trump is likely to tout the fifth straight month of job gains and lower unemployment as a sign of progress for an economy that plunged into recession in February.
But September's employment gains were the smallest since the jobs recovery started in May and left the labour market a long way from recouping the 22.2 million jobs lost in March and April, indicating slower growth heading into the fourth quarter.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, blames the economic turmoil on the White House's handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people and infected over 7 million in the nation.
Trump said on Friday that he and his wife Melania had tested positive for COVID-19.
"The recovery continues but at slower rate in part because the government stimulus has diminished significantly," said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "We are seeing more layoffs and bankruptcies, and until the next government comes in with more support, I would not be surprised to see a renewed decline in employment toward the end of the year."
Third-quarter gross domestic product growth estimates are toppinRead More – Source
Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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