• By The Financial District


Heading into the November election, the US jobs recovery is running out of steam even as the economy added 661,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. The unemployment rate stood at 7.9%, Anneken Tappe wrote in an analysis for CNN Business.

This is the highest the unemployment rate has been ahead of a presidential election since the government started tracking the monthly rate in 1948. "Today's report reveals a two-sided economy: More than 12.6 million Americans remain out of work as COVID-19 rages on, while in other pockets of the economy employers added millions of new jobs," said Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain in emailed comments. Lasting job losses also increased, with 36% of unemployed workers classified as permanently unemployed. On top of that, 617,000 women dropped out of the labor force in September. Half of them were between 35 and 44, the prime working age. By comparison, only 78,000 men dropped out of the workforce last year.

In 2012, when the country re-elected President Barack Obama, the pre-election unemployment rate was initially also reported at 7.9%, before getting revised down to 7.8%. The October jobs report will be published on the Friday following the election. The pandemic has ravaged America's previously strong job market and more than 22 million jobs vanished in the spring lockdown. If President Donald Trump loses the election, he could become the first President on record — going back to President Harry Truman — to leave the White House with fewer jobs than when he started.

Comparing presidents' jobs records in their first 44 months in office over the same time period, Trump comes last. Between January 2017 and September, 3.9 million jobs were lost. President George W. Bush lost jobs during his first term in office following the recession that came after the dot-com bubble burst. In the first 44 months of the Bush administration, 605,000 jobs were lost — far fewer than under Trump. During Bush's total time in office, however, jobs were added.