The US economy added 661,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. That was a smaller jobs bump than economists were expecting.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.9% – down from 8.4% in August, and also lower than Wall Street’s forecast of 8.2%.
This is the highest the unemployment rate has been ahead of a presidential election since the government started tracking the monthly rate in 1948.
The report is the last look at the labor market before the presidential election in November. 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 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 the first 44 months in office over the same time period, Trump comes last.
Wall Street will be watching health care stocks closely Friday as the need for a coronavirus vaccine becomes even more pressing. Shares of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna were all lower in early trading along with the broader market.