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By: and
Published: Sep 24, 2020 5 min read

Jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics seem to show a nation in recovery: In August, the U.S. unemployment rate fell for the fourth consecutive month, according to the agency, and the number of unemployed workers dropped by 2.8 million.

But those “official” government figures — which the Labor Department is expected to update soon — paint only a partial picture of how Americans are struggling across wide swaths of the country as the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its eighth month.

About one-fifth of U.S. renters face eviction through the end of 2020, according to the Aspen Institute, and millions more are late on their mortgage payments. The end of the $600 weekly CARES Act boost to out-of-work Americans, and the $300 FEMA-funded payments that some states followed it with, have left some of the neediest people with the least amount of aid — especially in states that offer dismally low weekly benefit maximums, like Missouri ($235) and Louisiana ($235). Black and Latino Americans are, unsurprisingly, bearing the brunt of the burden.

No single data point can sum up the complex unemployment situation in the U.S. right now (especially when those statistics are susceptible to overlap and other counting errors). But there's more to consider than just the national unemployment rate.