The November employment report showed that the economy gained 245,000 jobs, far behind expectations. For instance, a MarketWatch economist poll had an average of 432,000 jobs regained for the month. While the markets and employment levels have materially recovered more than half of the jobs lost in the COVID recession, the easiest gains are behind us. There are material impediments to worker demand – particularly in retail and entertainment industries. Moreover, as the virus continues its spread unabated, worker supply is also under pressure as COVID fears keep potential job hunters from reentering the workforce.
Ordinarily, there is a seasonal uptick of job availability in the December holiday shopping environment, but that too will be lower than normal since much of the US is seeing high and/or increasing rates of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Current estimates suggest that the spread will continue to worsen for the next several weeks at least, which may cause a backslide in employment.