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US economy adds 661,000 jobs in September as recovery slows – Al Jazeera English

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The United States economy added 661,000 jobs in September – fewer than many economists were expecting – while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent, the US Department of Labor reported on Friday.

This is the final monthly snapshot of the US labour market American voters will see before the November 3 presidential election, and the unemployment rate falls at a time of rising uncertainty around the pace of the economic recovery and President Donald Trump’s re-election bid after he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

September marks the fifth straight month of job gains since the economy haemorrhaged more than 22 million of them in March and April as coronavirus lockdowns swept the nation. More than 11.4 million of those positions have been clawed back. But the labour market is still well shy of its pre-pandemic strength.

Back in February, the unemployment rate was hovering near a half-century low at 3.5 percent.

Though job creation is moving in the right direction, it is not moving fast enough for millions of laid-off Americans, many of whom have already faced or are facing permanent job losses.

Tuesday’s debate between US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden offered nothing in the way of thoughtful discourse on how to get unemployed Americans back to work.

Trump is advocating the same policy mix he used prior to the pandemic to nurse the economy back to health: tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and a continuation of his administration’s “America First” crackdown on trade deals and trading partners Washington regards as unfair.

Biden’s “Build Back Better” blueprint aims to revive the US economy from the ravages of COVID-19 while redressing long-festering inequalities and the climate crisis. His policy mix includes increasing corporate taxes to fund innovation and buy American products to expand jobs; tax incentives and penalties to encourage US firms to keep and create jobs in the US; a massive $2 trillion investment in clean energy and a federal boost for caregiving.

Multiple gauges of economic activity released this week signal that the recovery is starting to plateau. Layoffs remain widespread, activity at the nation’s factory is downshifting, household incomes fell more than expected in August and consumer spending – the engine of the US economy accounting for some two-thirds of growth – has also slowed sharply.

The entire fall in household incomes is due to the expiration of the federal $600 weekly top to state unemployment benefits at the end of July.

The White House and Congress remain at loggerheads over a new round of virus relief aid and many economists, including US Federal Reserve officials, have warned the economic recovery is at risk of stalling or even derailing without more federal fiscal support from Washington.

Deeper dive into September numbers

A deeper dive into the jobs report shows that the number of unemployed workers stood at 12.6 million in September, one million fewer than the previous month, but almost twice as high as February when 6.8 million Americas were unemployed.

The number of people on temporary layoff fell by 1.5 million last month to 4.6 million – dramatically lower than 18.1 million recorded in April when tens of millions of Americans were thrown out of work during lockdowns.

But the number of permanent job losses rose by 345,000 in September to 3.8 million.

While the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent last month, not all of that recovery was due to positive reasons.

To be counted as “unemployed”, a person needs to be actively looking for work. But in September, about 4.5 million Americans said they were prevented from looking for work because of the pandemic.

Of the 19.4 million Americans who reported that they were unable to work last months because of a pandemic-related closure or lost business, only about 10.3 percent received at least some pay from their employer.

Recovery and inequalities

Prior to the pandemic, the nation’s jobs market was on fire and the racial unemployment gap had narrowed to its lowest on record.

But the ravages of COVID-19 are now exacerbating pre-existing inequalities.

Though September marked the first time in five months that the racial employment gap narrowed, there is a still a considerable gap.

The unemployment rate for whites last month was 7 percent, compared with 12.1 percent for African Americans and 10.3 percent for Latinos.

The jobless rate for men above 20 years stood at 6.5 percent in September compared with 6.9 percent for women.

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Weak Oil Demand Set To Keep Crude Tanker Rates Low – OilPrice.com

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Weak Oil Demand Set To Keep Crude Tanker Rates Low | OilPrice.com

Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

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Crude oil tanker rates—which fell in September to their lowest since 2003 on the key route from the Arabian Gulf to Asia—are expected to remain low until global oil demand increases, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.  

Earlier this year, between March and May, crude oil tanker rates spiked as refiners rushed to snap up cheap oil cargoes when prices were in the teens, while demand for floating storage soared amid crashing demand for fuels in the pandemic. 

In the brief Saudi-Russian price war in March and early April, supertanker owners were the winners, as the spat coincided with the start of the lockdowns in major economies and increased the global oil glut. Shipping companies had a field day with Saudi Aramco booking tankers en masse to flood the market with oil, while traders scrambled to charter tankers for floating storage to sell at higher prices later.

According to EIA estimates based on Bloomberg data, tanker rates for one of the key global tanker routes—the Arabian Gulf to Japan—were the highest in mid-March since at least 2000, except for a brief spike in tanker rates in October 2019 as a result of U.S. sanctions on Chinese shipping firm COSCO.

The tanker industry faces several challenging months, the world’s biggest international shipping association BIMCO said in an analysis in early September.  

“The lower aviation and transport demand, and fundamentally lower oil consumption, will hurt the industry for at least 15 months,” Peter Sand, Chief Shipping Analyst at BIMCO, wrote.

“For the remainder of this year, the tanker shipping industry will find itself paying for the highs it reached in the second quarter. The higher demand for shipping at the time was not because of higher immediate consumption, but because of future demand being brought forward as importing refiners sought to benefit from the lower price,” Sand said.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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Crude Inventory Build Forces Oil Prices Lower – OilPrice.com

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Crude Inventory Build Forces Oil Prices Lower | OilPrice.com

Irina Slav

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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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    Crude oil price fell further after the Energy Information Administration reported an inventory increase of 4.3 million barrels for the week to October 23.

    This compares with a decline of 1 million barrels for the previous week, which helped prop up prices for a short while before concerns about demand prevailed once again amid surging Covid-19 cases in Europe and the United States.

    At 492.4 million barrels, crude oil inventories are 9 percent above the five-year average for this time of the year, when demand declines for seasonal reasons, so more builds are to be expected.

    Yet the biggest factor contributing to inventory movements right now remains the coronavirus, which is again infecting record numbers of people in the United States: the seven-day average of newly diagnosed cases for last week hit 70,000.

    Against this worrying background, the EIA also reported a surprising inventory decline in gasoline inventories for the reporting period. At 900,000 barrels, the decline compared with an increase of 1.9 million barrels for the prior week.

    Gasoline production last week averaged 9.1 million bpd, which compared with 8.9 million bpd a week earlier.

    Distillate fuel inventories shed 4.5 million barrels in the week to October 23. This compares with a draw of 3.8 million barrels for the previous week. That draw followed an even heftier one for the first week of October in a rare good sign about distillate fuels.

    Distillate fuel production last week averaged 4.1 million bpd, which was almost unchanged on the previous week.

    Prices have been on the decline this week, pressured by the combined weight of a grim demand outlook and, yesterday, by the unexpectedly large oil inventory build reported by the American Petroleum Institute.

    Some good news came from OPEC+, which is reportedly mulling over a delay in the next relaxation of production cuts, but at the same time, Libya said it plans to boost production to 1 million bpd, which largely offset the positive effect of the OPEC+ news.

    At the time of writing, Brent crude traded at $39.11 a barrel, with West Texas Intermediate at $37.28 a barrel, both down by over 5 percent from opening.

    By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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      When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, how good will be good enough? – National Post

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      Article content continued

      The difficulty is, hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19 are uncommon, and it would require a large population over a longer period to accumulate enough deaths to see a difference between the vaccine and placebo group, Kimmelman said.

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a minimum target of 50 per cent efficacy for a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning a vaccine would have to be 50 per cent better than a placebo at preventing disease.

      In an early-stage study, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies in 45 healthy, 18- to 55-year-olds who received two vaccinations, 28 days apart, the company reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. Side effects — fatigue, chills, headache or muscle aches — occurred in more than half the participants.

      Dr. Jacqueline Miller, head of Moderna’s infectious diseases development, told last week’s FDA advisory panel meeting that more than 25,000 people have received both doses of its study vaccine, or a placebo, and that the vaccine was designed to evaluate Americans “at the highest risk of severe COVID disease.” Forty-two per cent of study participants are older adults or people with heart disease, diabetes or other underlying conditions, Miller added.

      A technician works in a lab at Sinovac Biotech where the company is producing their potential COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac during a media tour on Sept. 24, 2020 in Beijing, China. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

      AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has produced an immune response in both the young and old, Reuters reported this week. Less clear is how well an antibody response translates into how well any vaccine can actually fend off COVID.

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