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Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. added 1.4 million jobs last month, while the unemployment rate fell to 8.4% from 10.2% in July, the government announced on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market is rebounding, but the pace of hiring has dropped off from the fury of job gains seen earlier this summer. The slowdown could be a sign of what's to come: a long, sluggish job market recovery.

By the numbers: The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell by 1.8 percentage points — hitting single digits for the first time since March.

  • Still, the jobless rate is still the worst in years and much higher than the 3.5% seen in February before effects of the coronavirus pandemic hit the labor market.
  • The payroll gains were boosted by the hiring of 238,000 2020 Census workers, but those jobs aren't permanent.

Between the lines: Economists are closely watching the workers who were furloughed or temporarily laid off at the onset of the pandemic — and how many of those job losses are becoming permanent.

  • The number of people on temporary layoff is falling. As of August, 6.2 million were in this category — a decline of 3.1 million. For context, this number skyrocketed to a record 18.1 million in April.
  • But the number of people who said their job loss was permanent rose by 534,000 to 3.4 million — the highest since 2013. This figure has jumped by a cumulative 2.1 million people since February.

The big picture: Congress remains deadlocked over another stimulus package that could support the job market and head off coming layoffs.

The bottom line: The job market is still solidly in the hole, with 11 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic clobbered the economy.

Go deeper

Weekly jobless claims surge to 853,000, highest since September

Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

About 853,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment insurance‌ last‌ week, up from 716,000 the week before and 123,000 more than economists had projected.

Why it matters: It's the highest number of new jobless claims since Sept. 19, per AP, and an indicator that labor market is heading in the wrong direction.

2. The future of work requires more than technology

The next big thing in redeveloping the U.S. workforce is digital skills training.

Why it’s important: Simply giving workers access to critical technologies isn’t enough if they struggle to use them.

1. First things first: America’s changing job market

COVID-19 has caused the future of work to arrive years earlier than expected, a fact that could leave many of America’s workers jobless.

The reason: The nature of work is becoming more digitized—something we saw even before the pandemic—and many in the U.S. labor force aren’t yet equipped to succeed in a job market that demands a new set of skills.

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