BLS Releases September 2020 Employment Situation (Sept. 2020)
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, nonfarm employment was below its February level by 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.
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.
The full BLS press release on the September 2020 employment situation can be accessed in the link below.
The next Employment Situation for October 2020 is scheduled to be released on Friday, November 6, 2020.