Oct 11, 2021
The U.S. economy added only 194,000 jobs in September, the slowest gains of 2021.
Most pundits blame the recent surge in the COVID Delta variant for slowing hiring and job growth. But in fact, the problems run much deeper than a temporary blip.
Many predicted that September would see a surge of hiring and economic activity: kids were going back to school, after all, and extra unemployment benefits were ending for many.
In fact, the opposite happened. Many workers stayed away even after their unemployment ran out. So much for the story that “generous” benefits were keeping people from looking for jobs!
And the Delta surge caused many schools to scale back or reverse their plans for in-person school. Public education jobs declined by a big amount in September—right when they were expected to go up. Many families, especially working mothers, were faced with the same old problem: Their kids were still staying home; or even if their kids were going to school, they could be sent home at any time due to a new COVID outbreak. The jobs the mothers can find pay so little that childcare would cost more than the income they’d take in. As a result, 309,000 women over the age of 20 dropped out of the workforce in September.
Economists try to point to the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.8% as a silver lining. But in fact, the unemployment rate dropped because people—especially women—dropped out of the workforce; NOT because more people are working! More than 5 million people stopped looking for work during the pandemic; and that trend is not getting better.
The problem is not just the Delta surge. The problem is too many jobs with dangerous conditions and poor pay, forcing parents to put their lives on the line while leaving their kids alone at home—or remain unemployed, without an income, but at home with their kids. The problem is too many school systems across the country that did nothing to truly prepare their schools to bring students and staff back during COVID. The problem is governments and employers putting all their focus on blaming workers for being unvaccinated while doing nothing to improve wages and working conditions to make it possible.
The problem is this system based on profit. The result is an economic crisis that only gets worse.