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The jobs data underscores the divide between college graduates and those without degrees.

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.”