Skip to content
Subscriber Only

It’s a Pretty Good Time to Look for Work—Despite the Pandemic

Conference Board economist says things are better than the unemployment rate indicates.

With the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, you’d think it would be a terrible time to look for work. Not so, says Gad Levanon, vice president for labor markets at the Conference Board, a business-supported research group. The relatively high U.S. unemployment rate of 7.9% in September overstates the trouble for workers, Levanon said in a webcast on Oct. 22. He expands on his remarks in an interview that followed.

Many of the people who are counted in the 7.9% unemployment aren’t aggressively looking for a job because they’re counting on returning to their old job as soon as the pandemic eases up, Levanon says. The evidence for that, he says, is the unusually high share of the jobless who report that they’re on temporary layoff: some 36.7% in September. A year earlier, only 7.8% of the unemployed said they were on temporary layoff.