The U.S. economy added 194,000 jobs in September, after economists predicted employers would hire roughly 500,000 new workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Friday.
This month is the second in a row in which job growth fell short of expectations, with the U.S. adding 366,000 jobs in August despite economists’ predictions of 728,000 new jobs.
The unemployment rate declined from 5.2 percent in August to 4.8 percent in September. However, the decline in unemployment was partially driven by a rise in people leaving the labor force.
“Ramped up production may be necessary, but you can’t find the employees to ramp it up,” Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce in Nevada, told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re hearing that from every sector—hospitality and touring, healthcare, you name it. People can’t be found. Everybody’s quick to say, ‘Wow, the economy is rebounding.’ Well, it can’t without human beings.”
There are currently 5 million fewer people on payrolls than there were in February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic forced shutdowns of businesses across the country, according to the Bureau. The shortage of workers coincides with high numbers of job openings, with almost 11 million job openings towards the end of July this year.
While hiring sped up earlier this summer, job growth stalled in April with a revised total of 278,000 jobs added, far short of economists’ expectations of 1 million. That month saw the largest miss in job growth expectations in at least two decades.