Facebook and its apps suffer another outage.
All of Facebook’s main products — Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and the “big blue app” of Facebook — were inaccessible to at least some users around 3 p.m. Eastern time.
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook and its family of apps were inaccessible on Friday afternoon, the second time in a week that the social network has experienced widespread problems with its services.
The site DownDetector.com, a service that relies on reports from users to determine whether websites are having problems, showed that all of Facebook’s main products — Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and the “big blue app” of Facebook — suffered downtime at around 3 p.m. Eastern time.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” the company said in post on Twitter. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Facebook said that Friday’s outage was not related to problems the company had on Monday, when the apps were down globally for more than five hours. That caused fallout among people who use the apps to communicate and run their businesses.
The latest coronavirus wave led to a second straight month of disappointing job growth in September, as Americans avoided restaurants and travel and were reluctant to rejoin the work force.
U.S. employers added 194,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department said Friday. That was down from 366,000 in August and far below the more than one million jobs added in July, before the more contagious Delta variant led to a spike in coronavirus cases across much of the country. The leisure and hospitality sector, which had been a main driver of job growth before Delta emerged, added fewer than 100,000 jobs for the second straight month.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, but that was partly a result of people leaving the labor force entirely — a sign that public health fears and other disruptions from Covid are still keeping people from looking for work.
“Employment is slowing when it should be picking up because we’re still on the course set by the virus,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton.
The data released on Friday was collected in mid-September, when the Delta wave was near its peak. Since then, cases and hospitalizations have fallen in much of the country, and more timely data from private-sector sources suggests that economic activity has begun to rebound. If those trends continue, job growth could approach its pre-Delta pace later this fall.
“This report is a glance in the rearview mirror,” said Daniel Zhao, an economist at the career site Glassdoor. “There should be some optimism that there should be a reacceleration in October.”
Nonetheless, the recent slowdown shows the economy’s continued vulnerability to the pandemic, and the challenges that will remain even once it is over. There are five million fewer people on U.S. payrolls than in February 2020, and 2.7 million people have been out of work for six months or more, the standard threshold for long-term unemployment. Yet the number of job openings is at a record high, and many employers report having a hard time filling positions.
Earlier this year, many economists and policymakers hoped that September would be the month when that logjam began to abate, as schools and offices reopened and expanded unemployment benefits ended. That easing hasn’t happened. The resurgence of the pandemic delayed office reopenings and disrupted the start of the school year, and made some people reluctant to accept jobs requiring face-to-face interaction. At the same time, preliminary evidence suggests that the cutoff in unemployment benefits has done little to push people back to work.
“I am a little bit puzzled to be honest,” said Aneta Markowska, chief financial economist for the investment bank Jefferies. “We all waited for September for this big flurry of hiring on the premise that unemployment benefits and school reopening would bring people back to the labor force. And it just doesn’t seem like we’re seeing that.”
Ms. Markowska said more people might begin to look for work as the Delta variant eases and as they burn through savings accumulated earlier in the pandemic. But some people have retired early or have found other ways to make ends meet and may be slow to return to the labor force, if they come back at all. That could have long-lasting economic effects, particularly if the recent slowdown in hiring persists.
In the meantime, employers are raising wages and offering other inducements to lure applicants. Average earnings rose 19 cents an hour in September and are up more than $1 an hour over the last year, after a series of strong monthly gains.
That, combined with benefits such as the child tax credit that have provided a financial cushion to low-income families, has arguably put workers in their strongest bargaining position in decades, said William M. Rodgers III, director of Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
“This period right now represents the first time in a long time where people feel they have some security,” Mr. Rodgers said. “And it’s probably, for many of them, an odd feeling, because they haven’t had it for a long time.”
Biden Stresses Low Unemployment Rate After Weak Jobs Report
The Labor Department reported that the economy had added 194,000 jobs in September, well below the half-million forecasted. President Biden, however, expressed optimism, pointing to wage growth and an unemployment rate below 5 percent.
In just eight months since I became president in the midst of a grave public health and economic crisis, the unemployment rate is now down below 5 percent, at 4.8 percent. A significant improvement from when I took office and a sign that our recovery is moving forward even in the face of a Covid pandemic. That improvement was widespread. Unemployment for Hispanic workers was down and the unemployment rate for African Americans fell almost a full percent, and it’s now below 8 percent for the first time in 17 months. Jobs up, wages up, unemployment down. That’s progress, and it’s a tribute to the hard work and resilience of the American people. I too would like to, as I said, move it faster. We’re making consistent, steady progress, though.
The Labor Department reported that the economy had added 194,000 jobs in September, well below the half-million forecasted. President Biden, however, expressed optimism, pointing to wage growth and an unemployment rate below 5 percent.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Biden stressed the sunny side of a disappointing jobs report on Friday, touting an unemployment rate that fell below 5 percent for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year, while conceding he would like to see more rapid job creation in the months ahead.
“When you take a step back and look at what’s happening, we are making real progress,” Mr. Biden said. “Maybe it does not seem fast enough. I would like to see it faster, and we’re going to make it faster.”
The president sought to take credit for continued progress in the labor market under his watch, including wage gains and job creation — and, at the same time, said the state of the economy shows the need for trillions of dollars in new spending and tax cuts that Democrats are trying to pass through Congress.
The Labor Department reported on Friday that the economy added 194,000 jobs in September, well below consensus forecasts for about a half-million jobs. It was the second consecutive month of disappointing job gains. Analysts blamed the weakness in part on a wave of infections from the Delta variant of Covid-19, which peaked nationwide in early September, and in part on statistical quirks of the pandemic’s effects on school reopening. Mr. Biden noted that cases have fallen sharply since the report’s data was collected.
Mr. Biden has for months attempted to make a nuanced, jobs-focused case for his plans to invest in physical infrastructure like roads and water pipes, paid leave, expanded public education, care for children and older and disabled Americans, and more, which are currently contained in a pair of bills that have not yet passed the House.
“We need to stay focused on what these goals will mean to the people who are just looking for a little bit of breathing room,” Mr. Biden said, and a “fair chance to build a decent middle-class life, to succeed and thrive instead of just hanging on by their fingernails.”
He has sought to both claim credit for the nearly five million jobs the country has created since he took office, while arguing his plans would create more — and better-paying — jobs in the future.
At the same time, economists both inside and outside of Mr. Biden’s administration have struggled to explain why so many available jobs in the country remain unfilled. Employers have a record number of job openings and a litany of complaints that they cannot find qualified workers even after raising their wage offerings.
The president did not address that issue on Friday.
Republicans have said for months that expanded unemployment benefits, including a $300-per-week supplement from the federal government for unemployed workers, have kept people from returning to work. But there was little evidence of a hiring surge this summer in states that moved to cancel the benefits early. The benefits lapsed in September for all states that had maintained them — and Mr. Biden’s team saw little sign on Friday that the expiration had boosted employment.
“This report shows that the unemployment extra benefit had no impact at all, in keeping people out of work,” Martin J. Walsh, the labor secretary, said in an interview. “And I think that we’re all trying to struggle to find what the right answer is” to why workers are not flocking to open jobs.
As the economy registered disappointing job growth in September, the divide between those with and without a college education was again stark.
Employment for holders of a bachelor’s degree rose by 169,000, and the unemployment rate for that group fell to 2.5 percent from 2.8 percent in August. By contrast, among those with a high school diploma but no college studies, employment fell by 394,000. Their unemployment rate declined to 5.8 percent from 6 percent, but only because nearly 500,000 people dropped out of the labor market.
White-collar jobs, which tend to go overwhelmingly to college graduates, have an advantage as the economy reckons with the coronavirus: They can be done remotely in many cases. Less-educated workers are more likely to work in face-to-face settings that have been heavily affected by the pandemic.
“We’re still down about five million jobs from prepandemic levels, and 1.6 million of those jobs are in leisure and hospitality,” said Scott Anderson, the chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. “There are still a lot of folks that haven’t been made whole from this pandemic.”
Lower-income households are under additional stress from the rise in energy prices, he added, as well as rising health care costs and rents. “They’re not benefiting from high housing prices,” Mr. Anderson said. “They need additional government support to weather the storm.”
After pausing during the worst of the pandemic in 2020, many large companies are hiring again, and college seniors and recent graduates are benefiting, according to recruiters and placement agencies. On the other hand, the spread of the Delta variant has slowed activity among some employers of less-skilled workers.
“I was a bit more encouraged before the Delta variant,” said Plinio Ayala, the chief executive of Per Scholas, a nonprofit group that provides skills training for young people in urban areas to prepare them for tech careers. “It has slowed things down significantly.”
The unexpected drop in hiring in September may have been a result of quirks in the way the government reports the data. But the broader recent slowdown is no statistical fluke — the rise of the Delta variant has clearly taken a toll on the economy.
The Labor Department said on Friday that government employment fell by 123,000 jobs in September, with most of the losses coming in education.
But public schools didn’t actually lay off tens of thousands of teachers, custodians and other workers. That figure is seasonally adjusted, meaning that it tries to account for predictable annual patterns in hiring and firing. One of the most predictable patterns of all: Schools hire lots of workers in September, and lay them off in June and July.
The pandemic, however, has disrupted those patterns. Early in the pandemic, many schools laid off workers earlier than usual. This year, some schools started hiring earlier than usual, meaning they also did less hiring in September than in most years. (Another possible factor: Many school districts have reported having difficulty hiring bus drivers and other workers, which could be holding down job growth.)
On an unadjusted basis, the government actually added close to 900,000 workers in September. Because that’s fewer than in a typical September, the seasonal adjustment formula interprets it as a loss in jobs.
Seasonal adjustment can help explain why job growth was weaker in September than in August, but it can’t explain why job growth in the last two months has been weaker than in the spring and early summer. That slowdown is real, and it reflects the impact of the Delta variant.
Employers in leisure and hospitality, one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, added hundreds of thousands of jobs per month from February through July, as restaurants reopened and Americans began traveling more. But the sector added just 38,000 jobs in August and 74,000 in September.
Overall, private sector job growth has slowed to a pace of a bit above 300,000 a month over the last two months, from more than 800,000 a month in June and July.
Job growth in sectors less affected by the pandemic was relatively strong in September, however. Construction companies, manufacturers and retailers all added jobs, suggesting that the effects of the latest virus wave have been fairly contained.
More than a year and a half into the pandemic, the active U.S. labor force is not bouncing back much, an alarming reality that could weigh on the economy’s growth — and bad news for policymakers at the Federal Reserve and White House who have been hoping to see worker participation rebound.
The share of people who were working or looking for work last month — the so-called labor force participation rate — dipped to 61.6 percent, down slightly from the prior month. Participation for people in their prime working years, defined as 25 to 54 years old, also ticked down.
At the same time, average hourly earnings climbed 0.6 percent in September from the month before, more than the 0.4 percent economists had expected, and have jumped by 4.6 percent over the last year.
The combination of stagnant labor force participation and rising wages creates an alarming picture for economists and investors, one in which costs are increasing as the outlook for growth is increasingly grim. With fewer people working and earning paychecks, the economy can produce less over time. And as employers have to pay more to attract workers, they may have to increase prices to cover their rising costs, feeding into high inflation.
When workers who have left the labor market will return to it — and whether some may be sidelined permanently — remains one of the most critical questions facing economists and policymakers.
Companies eager to hire had hoped that September might be a turning point, as schools reopened and expanded unemployment benefits expired, prompting people who were out of work because of child care issues — or were afforded more flexibility by government help — to return to the job search.
But that prognosis was complicated by timing and the coronavirus. The September jobs report survey was taken shortly after the expanded benefits expired, which may have made for a messy read on any effect from their expiration. And it came as infections from the Delta variant were high, potentially keeping people at home.
There had been just over 2,000 school closings for coronavirus outbreaks across nearly 470 school districts in 39 states through mid-September, Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, pointed out in a recent speech.
“The possibility of further unpredictable disruptions could cause some parents to delay their plans to return to the labor force,” Ms. Brainard warned.
Fed officials, who have been buying $120 billion a month in bonds and holding interest rates near zero to keep borrowing cheap and help the economy, will continue to watch for a pickup in the participation rate.
The report is not good news for the Fed, but it may not be enough to derail its plans to begin slowing asset purchases as soon as next month. Officials have repeatedly said that they are basing that decision on cumulative job market progress rather than on the latest data.
U.S. stocks fluctuated on Friday after the government reported that U.S. employers added far fewer jobs in September than expected, while wage gains were faster than anticipated.
Employers added 194,000 jobs last month, compared with economists expectations of about 500,000, the Labor Department said.
Employment in the leisure and hospitality sectors rose by 74,000 jobs in September, after flatlining last month amid evidence that labor shortages and the spread of the Delta variant were hampering hiring. The jobs data released on Friday was collected in mid-September, when the Delta wave was near its peak, but since then, cases and hospitalizations have fallen.
The S&P 500 was slightly lower in early afternoon trading. Stocks in Europe closed lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.3 percent.
Government bond yields rose, with the yield on yield on 10-year notes climbing three basis points to 1.60 percent.
Slowing jobs gains could weigh on decisions at the Federal Reserve to reduce monetary stimulus in the form of government bond purchases, but traders and policymakers are also watching closely for signs that higher prices will lead to longer lasting inflation and might prompt more action from the central bank. The jobs report showed average hourly wages rose 0.6 percent in September, more than economists were forecasting. Officials have signaled that they will soon begin to slow the bond purchases — something they could announce as soon as November based on progress in the labor market. The September jobs report probably will not derail those plans, which officials have said are based on cumulative job gains, and not a single month’s data.
“The low bar for the Fed to announce quantitative easing tapering was surpassed,” Lydia Boussour, the lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note. “And, with debt ceiling shenanigans pushed back until December 3, the road is clear for an announcement at the November FOMC meeting.”
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, an emergency relief program hastily rolled out in the early days of the pandemic, had such poor fraud protections that it improperly doled out nearly $4.5 billion to self-employed people who said they had additional workers — even those who made wildly implausible claims, like having one million employees.
The $20 billion program offered small businesses immediate grants of up to $10,000 in the months after the pandemic shuttered much of the economy. But there was no system to catch applications with “flawed or illogical information,” Hannibal Ware, the Small Business Administration’s inspector general, wrote in a report released on Thursday.
Nearly 5.8 million applicants received grants based on their company’s head count: $1,000 each for up to 10 workers. Sole proprietors and independent contractors who employed only themselves should have collected a maximum grant of $1,000 — but many collected bigger checks.
Some of the claims were outright absurd. Hundreds of applicants received the maximum grants after saying that they employed more than 500 workers, a number that would generally make them ineligible for the small business program. Fifteen said they had one million employees — a figure that would put them in league with Amazon and Walmart.
The report, which described how the agency could have spotted bogus applications by taking even rudimentary steps to prevent fraud, was the latest black eye for the S.B.A. READ THE ARTICLE ->
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