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It’s Still the Coronavirus Economy

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Let’s start with a bit of epidemiology. On July 12th, the United States reported 35,383 new cases of COVID-19, according to the Times. A month later, as the Delta variant continued to spread in many parts of the country, the U.S. reported 138,709 new cases. From an economic perspective, these dates are significant, because the Labor Department carries out its monthly survey of employer hiring during the pay period that includes the twelfth of the month. Between the July and the August survey periods, COVID cases shot up nearly fourfold.

On Wall Street, however, most economists took the view that the big resurgence in case numbers wouldn’t have a huge effect on hiring, which had been growing strongly since May as vaccinations became freely available and many COVID restrictions were removed. This time last month, the Labor Department reported that the economy had created nine hundred and forty-three thousand jobs in July. Earlier this week, the…

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