WASHINGTON — U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1% in June as the economy added a solid 4.8 million jobs, the government reported Thursday. But the job-market recovery may already be faltering because of a new round of closings and layoffs triggered by a resurgence of the coronavirus.
While the jobless rate was down from 13.3% in May, it is still at a Depression-era level. And the data was gathered during the second week of June, just before a number of states began to reverse or suspend the reopenings of their economies to try to beat back the virus.
“This is a bit of a dated snapshot at this point,” said Jesse Edgerton, an economist at J.P. Morgan Chase.
The news came as the number of confirmed infections per day in the U.S. soared to an all-time high of 50,700, more than doubling over the past month, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The spike, centered primarily in the South and West, has led states such as California, Texas, Arizona and Florida to re-close or otherwise clamp down again on bars, restaurants, movie theaters, beaches and swimming pools, throwing some workers out of a job for a second time.
President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back,” though he acknowledged there are still areas where “we’re putting out the flames” of the virus.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden responded, “Just like last month, President Trump has spiked the ball and made this about him. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s not even on the 50-yard line.”
Economists expect the recovery to take longer than Trump’s optimistic projections, with the unemployment rate likely to be near double-digit levels by year’s end.
“Even as we move into the second half of the year, a large number of people will still be looking for work,” said Eric Winograd, senior U.S. economist at asset manager AllianceBernstein.
The shutdowns over the past two weeks will be reflected in the July unemployment report, to be released in early August.
While the job market improved in June for a second straight month, the Labor Department report showed that the U.S. has recouped only about one-third of the colossal 22 million jobs lost during the lockdowns this spring.
Layoffs are still running high: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week to 1.4 million, according to the government.