The coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control across the entire country, overwhelming hospital systems and prompting a fresh round of shutdowns and reduced business activity.
It probably should come as little surprise that our economic recovery is slowing if not entirely reversing, but job growth fell by a staggering amount in November according to a new report from the Labor Department.
Job growth slowed by over half.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 245,000 jobs last month after rising by 610,000 in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was the smallest gain since the jobs recovery started in May. The fifth straight monthly slowdown in job gains left employment 9.8 million below its February peak.
Job growth last month was held back by further departures of temporary workers hired for the 2020 Census. States and local governments are also expected to have shed more workers, leaving overall government payrolls to drop by 99,000 jobs, the second straight monthly decline. The private sector added 344,000 jobs.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls would increase by 469,000 jobs in November. Hiring peaked at 4.781 million jobs in June.
It remains to be seen what will happen over the next 50 days, but it's quite possible that Joe Biden will take office in a second era of job losses, not growth.
There's no indication that our current surge and outbreak of the coronavirus is close to peaking yet. We've already baked in a significant amount of pain and deaths over the next month. There's also no reason to think Senate Republicans are going to agree to pass additional stimulus.
To illustrate just how unlikely it is that a significant stimulus package will revive the economy, consider this: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected a bipartisan proposal in favor of his own, smaller proposal that would not actually do anything to reverse our economic decline. McConnell's proposal does not include stimulus checks for consumers or any funding that would enable cities and states to retain jobs. It's a dud whose centerpiece is protection from legal liability for corporations.
I can only hope that voters in the state of Georgia understand that McConnell and the GOP will keep the country bogged down in economic stagnation if they don't vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Osoff in the special election for control of the Senate.