Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.9%

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in September, from 8.4% in August, a big drop that in normal times would be welcome news for a presidential incumbent seeking reelection in just over a month, Reuters reported.

These are not normal times.

As the best-known summary statistic of the labor market, the U.S. unemployment rate is a “a psychologically important number” for voters, said Michael Brown, principal U.S. economist at Visa.

But President Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus pushes that number into the background: Voters may be “weighing news related to the virus a bit more than the economic data right now,” Brown said.

The drop in the September jobless rate, reported by the Labor Department on Friday, extends a steep downward trend from the 14.7% registered in April, which was the highest level since the Great Depression.

But other details in the report do not easily fit into Trump’s narrative of an economy roaring back to life.

Monthly job gains slowed. Overall, of the 22 million jobs lost since February, the economy has recouped about half.

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