The latest jobs numbers were released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on October 20, tracking major changes to the job market in September 2020, including some promising signs on unemployment. Here are some of the major takeaways from the report:
- Unemployment declined in 30 states, while all 50 states of the District of Columbia had jobless rate increases from the prior period in 2019.
- There were notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, retail, health care and professional and business services.
- A significant portion of the job force continues to work from home due to the pandemic.
State-specific trends in unemployment
Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate in September, 15.1 percent, followed by Nevada, 12.6 percent. The largest unemployment rate decrease occurred in New Jersey (-4.4 percentage points).
The job market has been showing some signs of resiliency, with total non-farm payroll employment rising by 661,000 in September, following larger gains in the prior four months.
- Leisure and hospitality: this sector increased by 318,000 in September, with almost two-thirds of the gain occurring in food services and drinking places. Restaurants have been hard-hit by the pandemic, and 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: this sector added 142,000 jobs over the month, with gains widespread but lead by clothing stores. Employment in retail is 483,000 lower than in February.
- Health care: this sector rose by 108,000 in September but is down by 1.0 million since February, led by physicians (up 18,000), home health care services (up 16,000), social assistance (up 32,000) and in child day care services (up 18,000).
Professional and business services: this sector 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.
- Transportation and warehousing: this sector rose by 74,000 in September, with the biggest job gains 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: this sector 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.
The BLS jobs report can also tell us about how the pandemic has been shaping other aspects of the job market, including the shift toward remote work. 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.
The number of individuals affected by pandemic-related closures decreased in this report. 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 (i.e., they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last four 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.
Will these trends continue or change as we continue to endure the pandemic? Check back for our next summary of the jobs report.