Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9% from 8.4%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The final jobs report before the election showed a slowdown in hiring — a sign the labor market is in for a longer road to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Between the lines: It's the smallest gain in payrolls since the labor market began to show signs of recovery in May.

  • Friday's number is below the 800,000 jobs economists expected.

The state of play: The leisure and hospitality sector drove the bulk of September's hiring gains. Government jobs declined by 216,000, due in part to temporary 2020 Census workers being laid off.

  • The report showed workers laid off temporarily declined by 1.5 million last month.
  • Yes, but: The number of permanent job losers edged higher again, a worrying signal that companies are laying off workers for good in the midst of the pandemic — rather than sidelining them temporarily.

What to watch: One reason the unemployment rate declined was Americans leaving the labor force.

  • The labor force participation rate —which counts both people with jobs and those who are actively looking for work — fell 0.3% from August.

The big picture: Stocks reacted little to the release of the payrolls report in early trading, as CNBC notes.

  • They fell after news that President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

Worth noting: This week was among the worst for the labor market in recent history, and none of these losses were factored into the jobs report, since the survey period ended in mid-September.

  • tens of thousands of workers laid off at America’s biggest businesses, including 28,000 workers at Disney theme parks.
  • Airlines are beginning to let go of 32,000 employees, in the absence of additional stimulus from Washington.

The bottom line: The labor market has clawed back roughly half of the 22 million jobs it lost when the pandemic hit. About 10.7 million Americans remain out of work since then.

  • Economists warn it will be years before the labor market fully recovers from the walloping earlier this year — if the jobs come back at all.
  • Brian Rose, an economist at UBS, told Axios he expects at least 5 million Americans will lose jobs permanently because of the pandemic.

Go deeper: The Trump jobs record

Go deeper

New state unemployment filings fall to 787,000

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

First-time applications for unemployment fell last week, according to Department of Labor data released on Thursday.

Between the lines: The overall number of Americans relying on unemployment also fell to a still-staggering 23 million. But there are continued signs of labor market strain, with more people shifting to an unemployment program designed for the long-term jobless.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the impasse between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House on a new stimulus deal is supposed to be a crisis, you wouldn't know it from the stock market, where prices continue to rise.

  • That's been in no small part because U.S. economic data has held up remarkably well in recent months thanks to the $2 trillion CARES Act and Americans' unusual ability to save during the crisis.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

CEO confidence skyrockets on expectations of layoffs and wage cuts

U.S. consumers remain uncertain about the economic environment but CEOs are feeling incredibly confident, the latest survey from the Conference Board shows.

Why it matters: Confidence among chief executives jumped 19 points from its last reading in July, rising above the 50-point threshold that reflects more positive than negative responses for the first time since 2018.