The Jobs of August – WSJ


So much for the economy falling off an August cliff. That was the prediction in progressive economic circles amid a summer Covid-19 surge and the reduction in government payments to individuals. But Friday’s blowout jobs report for August reveals a labor market and economy that continue to recover in encouraging fashion.

The economy added 1.4 million jobs in the month while the unemployment rate declined 1.8 percentage points to 8.4%. Temporary Census hires filled 238,000 of those jobs. But the economy has nonetheless added 10.5 million private jobs in four months, about half as many as were lost in the recession caused by government-ordered lockdowns. The recovery after the 2008-2009 recession took three years to make this much progress, and the jobless rate was still 8.1% in August 2012.

Labor force participation increased 0.3 percentage points to 61.7%, up 1.5 points from its April low. This is still 1.7 percentage points below its February peak, but the increase means that hundreds of thousands of Americans are continuing to return to the workforce. By contrast, labor force participation declined in the five years after the 2009 recession. Our contributor Donald Luskin notes that the number of Americans receiving Social Security disability payments is 9.8 million, one million fewer than in August 2012.

One reason the Barack Obama-Joe Biden jobs recovery was so slow is that Congress increased government transfers such as food stamps and Medicaid and repeatedly extended 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, which didn’t lapse until the end of 2012. The expansion of government transfer payments reduced the incentive for Americans to return to work.

Democrats call that compassion, but it’s a cruel sort of kindness for many. Skills atrophy when they aren’t put to use, making it harder to re-enter the workforce later. Notably in August, as in 2013, the job market didn’t go into a tailspin when the $600 a week in federal enhanced unemployment benefits expired at the end of July. Two-thirds of unemployed Americans had been making more by not working. Most states have signed up for President Trump’s $300 a week substitute for the $600, and that is much less of a disincentive to work.

Job growth was especially notable in lower-paid industries like retail (249,000), leisure and hospitality (174,000), and transportation and warehousing (78,000). Unemployment rates also fell sharply among teens (16.1%), blacks (13%) and Hispanics (10.5%).

All of this means the economy is growing again as the lockdowns ebb and despite the lack of another spending blowout from Washington, D.C. The downturn was a recession, not the depression that many feared in March. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow formula is predicting third-quarter growth of nearly 30% year-over-year.

Consumer spending may slow without more federal checks, but perhaps not as much as feared with a recovering job market and average hourly earnings up 4.65% from August last year. They’re up 4.9% for production workers. People have pent up savings—the savings rate was 17.8% in July—and the wealth effect from rising home and stock prices despite the selloff in tech stocks this week will also help. Home prices are up 12% year-over-year, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 51% from its March trough.

Manufacturing is also rebounding as Europe and China reopen their economies, supply-chain bottlenecks ease, and home building surges. The Institute for Supply Management reported this week that its manufacturing index last month hit a 21-month high. Most industries reported that their biggest challenge is a shortage of raw materials and supplies.

The economy still has a long way to go to return to its pre-Covid heights, and that will take time and probably a vaccine. Covid aside, the biggest barrier to recovery now is election uncertainty and the potential for anti-growth policies if Democrats take the Senate as well as the House and Presidency. Meanwhile, happy Labor Day.

Main Street: When Donald Trump declared himself “the president of law and order,” immediate comparisons ran to Richard Nixon and 1968. Today’s analogy likens Joe Biden to Hubert Humphrey. Images: Getty Images/Hulton Archive Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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Racial gap in U.S. jobless rate widens again in August


September 4, 2020

(Reuters) – The gap in unemployment rates between Blacks and whites in the United States widened for a fourth straight month in August, and the spread between the races is now the largest in nearly six years.

The jobless rate for Blacks dropped by 1.6 percentage points to 13% in August from 14.6% in July, while the rate for whites dropped at a faster rate of 1.9 percentage points to 7.3% from 9.2% a month earlier. The overall U.S. unemployment rate fell more than expected last month to 8.4% from 10.2% in July.

The 5.7 percentage point gap was the widest since December 2014. One year earlier, in August 2019, the spread had been a record-low 2 percentage points. It was 2.5 points in April, when the U.S. economy shed a record 20.8 million jobs as a result of business shutdowns imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The racial gap in U.S. jobless rates has come under closer scrutiny in the months since the pandemic struck as minorities and women suffered an outsized share of job losses, exacerbating long-standing economic inequality. The widening also occurs against a backdrop of protests against police violence against Blacks, which has become a central issue in the U.S. presidential election campaign.

(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)





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Toronto home sales storm to new record in August with prices gaining 20%


Article content continued

New listings are up too, especially for condos which far exceeded growth in other segments of the market.

“Competition between buyers was especially strong for low-rise home types, leading to robust annual rates of price growth,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst.

“However, with growth in condominium apartment listings well outstripping condo sales growth, condo market conditions were comparatively more balanced, which was reflected in a slower pace of price growth in that segment.”

Prices for detached homes rose almost 20 per cent, semi-detached were up 18 per cent, while condos lagged with a 9.5 per cent increase.



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U.K. house prices surge to all-time high in August


House prices in the U.K. surged to an all-time high in August, fueled by pent-up demand and record low mortgage rates, according to new figures from Nationwide.

Britain’s biggest building society said prices jumped by 2% in August, following a 1.8% rise in July, marking the highest monthly increase since February 2004.

Annual house price growth jumped to 3.7% last month from 1.5% in July.

The average price was £224,123 ($298,864) in August, up from just under £170,000 10 years ago, Nationwide said.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said the bounce back in prices reflects the unexpectedly rapid recovery in housing market activity since the easing of lockdown restrictions.

“This rebound reflects a number of factors. Pent-up demand is coming through, where decisions taken to move before lockdown are progressing. Behavioral shifts may also be boosting activity, as people reassess their housing needs and preferences as a result of life in lockdown,” he said.

The housing market was hit hard in March at the height of the lockdown, as estate agents were forced to close their offices and viewings weren’t allowed.

On Wednesday, Britain’s biggest house builder Barratt Developments
BDEV,
+7.62%

scrapped a special dividend of £175 million that was payable in November 2021, as first-half profit slumped 46% following “unprecedented disruption” to sales and building activity caused by the pandemic.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the next few months are crucial for Barratt because, while the group demonstrated its strength during the lockdown, an extended recession would prove an even tougher test.

“The taxpayer funded furlough scheme, mortgage holidays and a ban on evictions are all due to be unwound in the autumn, which all could have major implications on demand for housing going forward,” she said.

Read:U.K. jobs picture looks bleak with 7.5 million furloughed or away from their job

Shares in Barratt rose 6.91% in early morning London trading.

Gardner said that the trends look set to continue in the near term, further boosted by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recently announced stamp duty holiday — the transfer tax paid when buying a home.

However, Gardner cautioned that most forecasters expect labor market conditions to weaken significantly in the quarters ahead, as a result of the after effects of the pandemic and as government support schemes wind down.

“If this comes to pass, it would likely dampen housing activity once again in the quarters ahead,” Gardner said.



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More than 1,450 migrants made dangerous Channel crossing in August, analysis shows | UK News


More than 1,450 migrants arrived in the UK by small boats in August – believed to be the record for a single month – according to analysis.

Last month also saw a new single-day record for migrant arrivals, with at least 235 people making it to Britain’s coasts on 6 August.

Home Secretary Priti Patel recently vowed to make the route “completely unviable” for those crossing the Channel to seek asylum.

Image:
Home Secretary Priti Patel has taken a tough stance on migrant crossings

Analysis by PA news agency revealed the number of people reaching the UK in small boats in August was almost as much as June and July combined.

In January this year, just 94 migrants reached the UK, but better weather and increased success appear to have led to more crossings over the summer months.

The Home Office has sought to blame French authorities and “activist lawyers” for the rising numbers of crossings and difficulties sending back asylum seekers who make it to Britain.

But charities have called for the government to provide safe and legal routes for migrants to claim asylum to prevent more making the dangerous journey across the Channel.

More suspected migrants arrived in the Port of Dover on Tuesday morning aboard a Border Force patrol boat.







Migrants willing to risk lives to reach UK

Immigration officials helped them ashore and a dinghy believed to have been used to cross the Channel was spotted being towed into the harbour shortly after.

Border Force, the RNLI and French authorities are remaining active in the Channel in case more people arrive.

Migrant crossings appear to have increased over the summer
Image:
Migrant crossings appear to have increased over the summer

On Monday, the Ministry of Defence confirmed an Army drone used in Afghanistan will fly over the Channel to monitor migrant boats.

It will be the first time the Watchkeeper unmanned air system has flown in the UK operationally.



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China’s August export orders shake off COVID gloom, fuelling factory expansion: Caixin PMI


September 1, 2020

BEIJING(Reuters) – China’s factory activity expanded at the fastest clip in nearly a decade in August, bolstered by the first increase in new export orders this year as manufacturers ramped up production to meet rebounding demand, a private survey showed on Tuesday.

The world’s second-biggest economy has largely managed to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis, and the emerging bright spot in the forward-looking gauge of export orders could herald a more durable and broad-based recovery for the Chinese economy in the months to come.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index(PMI) rose to 53.1 last month from July’s 52.8, marking the sector’s fourth consecutive month of growth and the biggest rate of expansion since January 2011.

It beat analysts’ forecasts for a slight dip to 52.6. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

The upbeat findings contrasted with an official survey on Monday, which showed China’s factory activity grew at a slightly slower pace in August as floods across southwestern China disrupts production, but there were positive signs in both PMIs.

The official PMI’s improving trend in new export orders was similar to the private survey, while the former also showed solid growth in the crucial services sector in a boost to the economy’s continued recovery from the coronavirus shock.

In Tuesday’s Caixin, Chinese factories reported the first increase in new export orders this year in August as overseas countries eased COVID-19 restrictions to kick start their economies. The pick-up in business also led to a further expansion in production, marking the sharpest gain in almost a decade.

The labour market also saw signs of improvement, with some companies increasing recruitment to meet production needs, although the gauge of employment continued to stay in negative territory for the eight straight month.

Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, said a turning point is approaching for employment as factories’ backlogs of work rose at a faster pace.

“Employment remained an important focus. An expansion of employment relies on long-term improvement in the economy. Macroeconomic policy supports are essential, especially when there are still many uncertainties in domestic and overseas economies,” said Wang, in a commentary accompanying the data release.

A mirror factory in the Chinese city of Yiwu, which supplies to retail giants such as Walmart and Home Depot, has been inundated with new business beyond the factory’s current operating capacity, with the management sending the entire sales team down to factory floors, a 23-year-old salesman at the company told Reuters.

“We laid off workers when the pandemic first started but now, with this many orders, we cannot find enough people,” said the salesman, adding that the firm was having issues booking shipments as finished goods piled up at their warehouses.

Business optimism towards the year ahead among Chinese factories remained strong overall, although it dipped slightly in August. Firms are concerned about the severity of the global pandemic over the long term.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)





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Coronavirus Australia live updates August 31: Victoria reveals date of lockdown roadmap, 73 new cases, 41 deaths; Ten new cases in NSW, one in Queensland as borders stay closed; $563m aged care funding boost


Health Minister Greg Hunt has given some more detail on where the extra $563 million in extra aged care funding will go.

Mr Hunt said the funding could be broken down into four key areas.

The first was the continuation of the COVID supplement to provide for an additional six months to the end of February 2021, he said.

“This is support for facilities and it comes as a cost of $245 million. It assists them as we announced in May on May 1, with the ability to develop their workforce, to provide for PPE needs and for other elements relating to the fight against COVID-19,” Mr Hunt said.

The second was to extend the support for aged care workers in COVID-19 areas to operate on a single workforce basis.

Cleaners at Estia Aged Care facility in Ardeer, Melbourne, where a large number of residents test positive for Covid-19.

“That will be extended as an entitlement from previously eight weeks per facility to 12. The program itself will now be extended as an available option till June 30, 2021, at an investment of $92.4 million. 

Thirdly, $71.4m would go towards expanding the short-term home support for older Australians who are on leave from residential aged care, to help families to care for older residents who will take time away from an aged care facility. The program will be extended until June 2021 at a cost of $71.4 million.

Fourthly, the extension of the COVID-19 aged care workforce retention payment totaling $154.5 million.



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Monday, August 31- Sunday, September 6


Chicago Fire

Seven, 10pm

Chicago Fire is an interesting phenomenon: one of those programs that has produced eight seasons of material without leaving any mark on the cultural landscape whatsoever. Few, if any, shows have been less likely to be discussed around a watercooler as this non-grittily unrealistic look at firefighters battling both personal demons and the immutable laws of physics.

There is an attack at a juvenile detention centre in suspicious circumstances, which means Chicago Fire is on the case, turning their hoses towards justice. It’s classic cookie-cutter TV: you could slot the same basic characters and situations into a show about cops or lawyers or doctors or politicians; and about a hundred other shows actually have. There’s nothing really wrong with Chicago Fire – it’s just the folder marked “reason for this to exist” is empty.

Tuesday

Further Back in Time for Dinner

ABC, 8.30pm

When we last saw the Ferrone family, they were returning to modernity after experiencing life as it was lived in the second half of the 20th century. Since then they clearly decided that the 21st century was simply not for them, so they’ve signed up to once again have Annabel Crabb follow them around while they wear uncomfortable clothes and cook disgusting meals.

Here they go back to the 1900s, to see how Australians lived before the invention of personal hygiene. Whether a history lesson is more effective when accompanied by a pair of wacky glasses and a family squawking in horror at the terrible hardships they deliberately volunteered for is an unanswerable question: in the end, Further Back In Time For Dinner’s appeal lies less in its ability to educate than its adherence to the tried-and-true reality-TV formula: ordinary people we can point and laugh at.

Further Back in Time for Dinner.

Here they go back to the 1900s, to see how Australians lived before the invention of personal hygiene. Whether a history lesson is more effective when accompanied by a pair of wacky glasses and a family squawking in horror at the terrible hardships they deliberately volunteered for is an unanswerable question: in the end, Further Back In Time For Dinner’s appeal lies less in its ability to educate than its adherence to the tried-and-true reality-TV formula: ordinary people we can point and laugh at.

Anh’s Brush with Fame – Jack Thompson

ABC, 8pm

Amiable Anh turns his brush on Jack Thompson, a bona fide Aussie legend. The show is never a forensic critique of its subjects, but always celebratory in nature. The hagiography of some episodes can be tiresome, but in this case there is nothing to dislike about sitting back and revelling in the yarns spun by Thompson, who has not only led one of the most entertaining lives in Australian showbusiness history, but is a born storyteller with a voice that you’d pay to hear read the phone book. In the presence of such a giant personality, Anh doesn’t have to do much except get busy on the canvas – which, as usual, comes out with a nice artwork to pay homage.

Wednesday

Arabia with Levison Wood

SBS, 7.30pm

Levison Wood is a writer and photographer who professes to a “lifelong fascination with the Middle East”. This series tracks his journey around the Arabian Peninsula and his attempt to dig beneath the clichés to find a truth somewhat deeper than the average travelogue. The trip begins in Kurdistan, locked in a long-running fight for independence from Iraq.

Arabia with Levison Wood.

Arabia with Levison Wood.Credit:SBS

It’s a slightly scary opening, the crew running into roadblocks and heavily-armed soldiers everywhere. Just getting into Iraq is a challenge: a tip-off that this may not be a completely carefree jaunt through scenic locations. However the show is not just warzone-gawping: Wood makes a praiseworthy attempt to engage properly with the people and cultures of the region, and sticking with it brings rewards in the revelation of Arabian diversity.

Hard Quiz

ABC, 8pm

One half of Hard Quiz’s appeal is the endearingly oddball contestants, whose passion for an eclectic array of subjects puts those of us who have never done a deep dive on the Dam Busters (which here go up against Shane Warne, the novels of James Herriot, and Survivor) to shame. The other half is Tom Gleeson, who delivers on the unfulfilled promise that The Weakest Link made all those years ago, of a quiz show host with a genuine enthusiasm for insulting strangers. It’s all done in good humour and with a winning smile, of course, but the show wouldn’t work quite so well if it weren’t for the subtle impression that Gleeson really does dislike most human beings. That’s what won him the Gold Logie, and that’s what keeps the quiz fun.

Thursday

Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking

Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking.

Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking.

SBS Food, 9pm

Great British Bake Off fans remember Mary Berry as the lovely lady judge who used to be on the show before that other one came and made it a bit less good. Those thirsting, in the Berry drought that now grips Bake Off, for some more genteel elderly action, will appreciate this series, in which Mary shows us how to cook a variety of delicious dishes that we will never actually make because they are far too complicated and we are not Mary Berry. It’s pleasant and relaxing, but frankly watching Mary cook – as worthwhile as it is – is not quite as exhilarating as watching her judge the inferior work of others. It’s better than nothing, but sadly nobody’s getting gently scolded for their soggy bottom here, and that’s what hurts.

Plat Du Tour

SBS, from 9.30pm

What better way of marking the ultimate test of fitness and human endurance that is the Tour de France than to vicariously indulge in the buttery, heart-clogging delights of French cuisine? But just like the Tour itself, which has moved from its traditional July berth to September on account of the pandemic, this year’s episodes of SBS’s complementary food show, Plat du Tour, looks the same, only different.

With the charming Gabriel Gate having hung up his apron after 15 years, Guillaume Brahimi hosts this nightly, bite-sized primer on regional recipes and specialities. Tonight – Stage 6, Le Teil to Mont Aigoual, from the Rhone River to the coast – Brahimi demonstrates a signature of French Mediterranean cuisine, Bouillabaisse.

Friday

Leverage

10Play

Crime procedurals are a well-paid home for veteran male Hollywood actors, and Timothy Hutton found his with Leverage, where he played former insurance investigator Nate Ford, who assembles a team of reformed criminals to assist ordinary people being victimised by corporations or governments. 10Play has all five seasons streaming, and you get elaborate cons, deceptive viewpoints and modest wisecracks, expertly marshalled by Hutton’s old pro. If you want an Ocean’s film condensed to 44 minutes, this is a good option.

Saturday

Only Connect

SBS Viceland

This BBC quiz show where teams have to find the link between seemingly disparate clues requires a genuine level of intellect and stopwatch puzzling, so it attracts a distinct type of British pub polymath. Say hello to Aidan Sproat-Clements: “A maths teacher and keen cribbage player who owns seven trombones.” Did I double-check that this wasn’t an elaborate scripted satire? I did, and it isn’t. But it is a neat variation to a timeless genre, complete with the brisk hosting of Victoria Coren Mitchell and whispered consultations between the teams of three that is intimate and engaging.

Sunday

The Block

Nine, 7pm

Contestants on The Block.

Contestants on The Block.

There’s 26 hours until the guest ensuites are revealed, which in Block terms means stressed contestants, wet area angst, a distracting visit from a commercial sponsor, and judge Neale Whitaker going into stylish headmster mode with a curt “sorry, doesn’t work” as he surveys a finished space. After a launch episode notable for host Scott Cam pointedly reminding viewers that he’s a tradie in his own right, the reality juggernaut has been its usual push and pull, escalating drama and then milking sympathy – you would think that the only word two men need to settle tensions after a disagreement is a hearty “mate”. There’s obviously an awareness in the edit suite that what was shot is now being cut for a nation in a strange mood, with a level of finesse required that will be challenging. Also up for debate is the format tweak of each team having a different 20th century decade assigned to their design brief. Will it stifle competitiveness?

Midsomer Murders

ABC, 8.40pm

Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) may not be able to touch his toes – “it’s a hamstring thing,” he claims – but he’s still nimble to investigate an attack on a pompous master beekeeper, which is the latest outrage in England’s rural murder capital. The pompous honey traditionalist is played by Griff Rhys-Jones, whose oversized performance is adjacent to the comic persona of the deluded Tory that Alias Smith and Jones fans may remember.

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AP Top Stories August 29


Here are the top stories for Saturday, Aug. 29th: Trump surveys Hurricane Laura damage; Biden, aiming at Trump, says he won’t use military as ‘prop’; ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies of cancer; See-through toilets installed in Tokyo parks.

       



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