October 2, 2020  REACTIONS  |  last month's report

Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate in September decreased to 7.9%

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.2 7.2 7.2 6.9 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.7 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6
2015 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.3 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 5.1 5.0
2016 4.9 4.9 5.0 5.0 4.8 4.9 4.8 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.7 4.7
2017 4.7 4.6 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.3 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.1 4.2 4.1
2018 4.1 4.1 4.0 4.0 3.8 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.7 3.9
2019 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.5
2020 3.6 3.5 4.4 14.7
 11.1 10.2
Chart: Reprinted from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In September, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education.

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see the Technical Note.

Household Survey Data

In September, the unemployment rate declined by 0.5 percentage point to 7.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 1.0 million to 12.6 million. Both  measures have declined for 5 consecutive months but are higher than in February, by 4.4 percentage points and 6.8 million, respectively. (See table A-1. For more  information about how the household survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, see the box note at the end of this news release.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in September for adult men (7.4 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), Whites (7.0 percent), and Asians (8.9 percent). The jobless rates for teenagers (15.9 percent), Blacks (12.1 percent),and Hispanics (10.3 percent) showed little change over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 1.5  million in September to 4.6 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 3.8 million higher than in February. In September,  the number of permanent job losers increased by 345,000 to 3.8 million; this measure has risen by 2.5 million since February. The number of unemployed job leavers rose by 212,000 to 801,000 in September. (Job leavers are persons who quit or voluntarily  left their previous job and immediately began looking for new employment.) (See table A-11.)

In September, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks increased by 271,000 to 2.6 million. The number of persons jobless 5 to 14 weeks  decreased by 402,000 to 2.7 million, and the number of persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks fell by 1.6 million to 4.9 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 781,000 to 2.4 million. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 61.4 percent in September and is 2.0 percentage points lower than in February. The employment-population ratio, at 56.6 percent, changed little over the month but is 4.5 percentage points lower than in February. (See table A-1.)

In September, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 1.3 million to 6.3 million, reflecting a decrease in the number of persons whose hours were cut due to slack work or business conditions. The number of involuntary part-time workers is 2.0 million higher than in February. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time  employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job, at 7.2 million, changed little in September; this measure is 2.3 million higher than in February.  These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively  looking for work during the last 4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job. (See  table A-1.)

Among those not in the labor force who currently want a job, the number of persons  marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.9 million, changed little in September.  These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was 581,000 in September, also little changed from the previous month. (See Summary table A.)

Household Survey Supplemental Data

In September, 22.7 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 24.3 percent in August. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically because of the pandemic.

In September, 19.4 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic.  This measure is down from 24.2 million in August. Among those who reported in September that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 10.3 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked.

About 4.5 million persons not in the labor force in September were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic. This is down from 5.2 million in August. (To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.)

These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey beginning in May to help gauge the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. The data are not  seasonally adjusted. Tables with estimates from the supplemental questions for all months are available online at www.bls.gov/cps/effects-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic.htm.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September, following larger gains in the prior 4 months. In September, nonfarm employment was below its February levelby 10.7 million, or 7.0 percent. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment declined in government, mainly in state and local government education. (See table B-1. For more information about how the establishment survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, see the box note at the end ofthis news release.)

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 318,000 in September, with almost two-thirds of the gain occurring in food services and drinking places (+200,000).  Despite job growth totaling 3.8 million over the last 5 months, employment in food services and drinking places is down by 2.3 million since February. Amusements, gambling, and recreation (+69,000) and accommodation (+51,000) also added jobs in September.

Retail trade added 142,000 jobs over the month, with gains widespread in the industry. Clothing and clothing accessories stores (+40,000) accounted for about one-fourth of the over-the-month change in retail trade. Notable employment increases also occurred in general merchandise stores (+20,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+16,000), and health and personal care stores (+16,000). Employment in retail trade is 483,000 lower than in February.

Employment in health care and social assistance rose by 108,000 in September but is down by 1.0 million since February. Health care added 53,000 jobs in September, with continued growth in offices of physicians (+18,000), home health care services (+16,000), and offices of other health practitioners (+14,000). Social assistance added 55,000 jobs, mostly in individual and family services (+32,000) and in child day care  services (+18,000).

Professional and business services added 89,000 jobs in September. Employment increased in services to buildings and dwellings (+22,000), architectural and engineering services (+13,000), and computer systems design and related services (+12,000). Despite gains of 910,000 since April, employment in professional and business services is 1.4 million lower than in February.

Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 74,000 in September. Within the industry, job gains continued in warehousing and storage (+32,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+21,000), and couriers and messengers (+10,000). Although the industry has added 291,000 jobs since May, employment in transportation and warehousing is 304,000 lower than in February.

Manufacturing added 66,000 jobs over the month. Durable goods accounted for about two-thirds of the gain, led by motor vehicles and parts (+14,000) and machinery (+14,000). Despite gains over the past 5 months, employment in manufacturing is 647,000 below February's level.

Financial activities added 37,000 jobs in September. Job growth occurred in real estate and rental and leasing (+20,000) and in finance and insurance (+16,000). Employment in financial activities is 162,000 below the level in February.

In September, the other services industry added 36,000 jobs, largely in membership associations and organizations (+31,000). Employment in other services is 495,000 lower than in February.

Employment in information grew by 27,000 in September but is down by 276,000 since February. Motion picture and sound recording industries accounted for most of the September gain (+23,000).

Construction employment increased by 26,000 in September, with growth in residential specialty trade contractors (+16,000) and construction of buildings (+12,000). Construction employment is below its February level by 394,000.

In September, wholesale trade added 19,000 jobs, with gains in both the durable and nondurable goods components (+13,000 and +8,000, respectively). Employment in  wholesale trade is 312,000 lower than in February.

Government employment declined by 216,000 in September. Employment in local government education and state government education fell by 231,000 and 49,000, respectively. A decrease of 34,000 in federal government was driven by a decline in the number of temporary Census 2020 workers. Partially offsetting these declines,  employment in local government, excluding education, rose by 96,000.

Employment in private education decreased by 69,000 in September, after a gain of similar magnitude in August. Employment in the industry is down by 355,000 since February.

Employment changed little in mining in September (+1,000). Employment in the  industry is down by 133,000 since a recent peak in January 2019; about three-fourths of this decline has occurred since February of this year.

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $29.47, changed little (+2 cents). Average hourly earnings of private-sector  production and nonsupervisory employees were also little changed in September  (+1 cent) at $24.79. The large employment fluctuations over the past several months-- especially in industries with lower-paid workers--complicate the analysis of recent trends in average hourly earnings. (See tables B-3 and B-8.) 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.1 hour to 34.7 hours in September. In manufacturing, the workweek rose by 0.2 hour to 40.2 hours, and overtime decreased by 0.1 hour to 2.9 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.1 hour to 34.1 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised up by 27,000, from +1,734,000 to +1,761,000, and the change for August was revised up by 118,000, from +1,371,000 to +1,489,000. With these revisions, employment in July and August  combined was 145,000 more than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)

The Employment Situation for October is scheduled to be released on Friday, November 6, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on September 2020 Establishment and Household Survey Data

Data collection for both surveys was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In the establishment survey, approximately one-fifth of the establishments are assigned to four regional data collection centers for collection. Although these centers were closed, interviewers at these centers worked remotely to collect data by telephone. Additionally, BLS encouraged businesses to report electronically. The collection rate for the establishment survey was 70 percent in September, 5 percentage points lower than the average for the 12 months ending in February 2020. The household survey is generally conducted through in-person and telephone interviews. However, for the safety of both interviewers and respondents, in-person interviews were conducted only when telephone interviews could not be done. The household survey response rate was 79 percent in August, considerably higher than the low of 65 percent in June but below the average rate of 83 percent for the 12 months ending in February 2020.

In the establishment survey, workers who are paid by their employer for all or any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month are counted as employed, even if they were not actually at their jobs. Workers who are temporarily or permanently absent from their jobs and are not being paid are not counted as employed, even if they are continuing to receive benefits.

In the household survey, individuals are classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force based on their answers to a series of questions about their activities during the survey reference week (September 6th through September 12th).  Workers who indicate they were not working during the entire survey reference week and expect to be recalled to their jobs should be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. As in recent months, a large number of persons were classified as unemployed on temporary layoff in September.

Since March, household survey interviewers have been instructed to classify employed persons absent from work due to temporary, coronavirus-related business closures or cutbacks as unemployed on temporary layoff. BLS and Census Bureau analyses of the underlying data suggest there still may be some workers affected by the pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. However, the share of responses that may have been misclassified was much smaller in July, August, and September than in prior months.

For March through August, BLS published an estimate of what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified workers been included. Repeating this same approach, the overall September unemployment rate would have been 0.4 percentage point higher than reported. However, this represents the upper bound of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the size of the misclassification error.

According to usual practice, the data from the household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses.

More information is available at
www.bls.gov/covid19/employment-situation-covid19-faq-september-2020.htm. |


Americans for Limited Government
October 2, 2020

14.1 million more jobs recovered since April as Trump economy continues reopening on eve of election

By Robert Romano
Another 275,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in the month of September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) household survey, and 661,000 in the establishment survey, adding to the miraculous economic recovery that has taken place since COVID-19 lockdowns this spring as now states and businesses continue reopening at a rapid clip.

That makes for a record 14.1 million jobs that have been recovered in just five short months since labor markets bottomed in April — all on the eve of the 2020 presidential election. This will be the last monthly jobs report before Nov. 3 — and it is undoubtedly great news not just for President Donald Trump, who has insisted on safely reopening the economy, but to the American people who depend on it to support their families.

At the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 29, days before the latest numbers were released, Trump touted the success the nation has seen with reopening and laid into Biden for wanting to shut it down again.

“[W]hat happened is we’ve closed it down and now we’re reopening, and we’re doing record business. We had 10.4 million people in a four-month period that we’ve put back into the workforce. That’s a record the likes of which nobody’s ever seen before, and he wants to close down the — he will shut it down again,” Trump declared, referring to the separate BLS establishment survey of employers prior to the September numbers being released, which show now 11.4 million jobs recovered in revised data.

Both surveys are right, each showing the same V-shaped recovery that has formed, and this month, it appears the establishment survey was catching up to the household one, which may be more useful in terms of gauging the experience of more Americans as a leading indicator.

President Trump contrasted his vision with what he said were the implication’s of Biden’s prescription: “He will destroy this country, you know, a lot of people, between drugs and alcohol and depression, when you start shutting it down and you take a look at what’s happening in some of your Democrat run states where they have these tough shutdowns, and I’m telling you it’s because they don’t want to open it…. They think they’re hurting us by keeping them closed. They’re hurting people. People know what to do. They can social distance, they can wash their hands, they can wear masks — they can do whatever they want, but they can open these states up.”

Biden for his part, keeps maintaining that “you can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis,” and at one point in the debate declared “You need to shut it down” before Trump cut him off.
Biden said, “The idea that … we go forward and open when you have almost half the states in America with a significant increase in COVID desks and COVID cases in the United States of America, and he wants to open it up more. Why does he want to open it up? Why doesn’t he take care of the American — you can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis, and he has no intention of doing anything about making it better for you all at home, in terms of your health and your safety. Schools — why aren’t schools open? Because it costs a lot of money to open them safely.”

Trump, on the other hand, emphasized the toll the ongoing closures have on working families: “[P]eople want their schools open. They don’t want to be shut down. They don’t want their state shut down. They want their restaurants. I look at New York. It’s so sad what’s happening in New York, it’s almost like a ghost town. And I’m not sure I can ever recover what they’ve done in New York. People want their places open. They want to get back to their lives.”

The American people already know the difference. In April, at the height of the state-led lockdowns, 25 million jobs were lost. The Gross Domestic Product contracted by an inflation-adjusted, annualized 31.7 percent in the second quarter.

Since then, more than 16 million jobs have been recovered, and now, the Atlanta Federal Reserve is projecting a 34.6 percent expansion of the economy in the third quarter — another report that will be released just days before the election.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases continue to stabilize nationwide, including in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona where cases saw a brief uptick this summer but other states like Wisconsin are witnessing an uptick. The President and First Lady’s positive COVID-19 tests are a testament of the risks.

And with the cold and flu season upon us again, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is projecting that coronavirus cases will rise significantly through October and November.

One trouble spot, right on time for the advent of the cold and flu season, the labor markets recovery slowed down significantly in the household survey, with a net 970,000 fewer unemployed, of which 879,000 left the labor force.

Which is why we continue to need an emphasis on safely reopening, especially schools, is so important. Congress is still considering phase four legislation, and more than any other thing, getting the schools back and operational is critical to millions of parents getting back to work — and keeping their jobs. The pandemic shutdowns disproportionately knocked women out of the labor force.

The longer the schools are shut, the harder the recovery will become.

Both the Senate and House versions of the legislation provide additional resources for schools — so did the already passed CARES Act — and so the only question is why both chambers have not simply passed the things that they do agree on while working families and small businesses continue to struggle. In particular, the small business lending program to 5 million small business ran out of money on Aug. 8, that has supported 50 million jobs.

While a lot of hope has been placed in the vaccine, there is also the disquieting possibility that it might not work. After all, there’s never been an effective vaccine for coronavirus. States have to make plans for what the country will look like — even without an immediate vaccine and regardless of who wins the election in November.

Looking forward, this fall and winter will undoubtedly be a trying time for the American people and the world, and President Trump and former Vice President Biden each have different visions on how and whether to reopen the economy. It is about as clear a contrast as you can get in any debate, which despite the sparring between the candidates, was full of substance. And that may be what the election comes down to: To reopen the country or not to reopen? You decide.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Democratic National Committee
October 2, 2020

DNC on September Jobs Report

After the U.S. Department of Labor released the latest jobs and unemployment numbers, DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez issued the following statement:

“Job growth has slowed, millions remain out of work, and small businesses continue to close. American workers are still suffering under this economy and cannot endure this crisis any longer. We need leaders who will lift up workers, give them the relief they deserve, put an end to this pandemic, and build back better.”