The September jobs report returned lower-than-expected growth and a decidedly mixed outlook on the overall economic recovery. The economy added 194,000 jobs, in contrast to nearly a million jobs added in July and a better-than-expected month in June.
The slowing growth has been attributed to fears and restrictions related to the Delta variant, which seems to be making a retreat across the world.
In more positive news, the unemployment rate dropped sharply by 0.4 percentage point to 4.8 percent.
Leisure and hospitality continues to show strong signs of recovery, as does professional and business services, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing.
A Shrinking Work-from-Home Contingent
In September, 13.2 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, little changed from the prior month. The monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that overall, a very small portion of the labor force can work from home.
Leisure and Hospitality Gains
Employment in leisure and hospitality rose 74,000 in September. The biggest gains in this sector were with arts, entertainment, and recreation (+43,000). Food services and drinking places remained flat for the second month in a row, a concerning sign after an average monthly gain of 197,000. Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.6 million, or 9.4 percent, since February 2020.
Growth in Professional Services
Professional and business services added 60,000 jobs in September. The biggest gains in this sector were architectural and engineering services (+15,000), management and technical consulting services
(+15,000), and computer systems design and related services (+9,000).
More Jobs in Retail
September was a bright spot for retail. After two months of almost no change, employment rose by 56,000. The biggest gains were in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+27,000), general merchandise stores (+16,000), and building material and garden supply stores (+16,000). These gains were offset by a loss in food and beverage stores (-12,000). Retail trade employment is 202,000 lower than its level in February 2020.
Other key areas of job gains:
- Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 47,000.
- Employment in the information industry increased by 32,000 in September. Gains occurred in motion
picture and sound recording industries (+14,000); in publishing industries, except Internet (+11,000);
and in data processing, hosting, and related services (+6,000).
- In September, social assistance added 30,000 jobs, led by a gain in child day care services (+18,000).
- Employment in manufacturing increased by 26,000 in September, with gains in fabricated metal products
(+8,000), machinery (+6,000), and printing and related support activities (+4,000). These gains
were partially offset by a decline of 6,000 in motor vehicles and parts.
- Construction employment rose by 22,000 in September but has shown little net change thus far this
- In September, employment in wholesale trade increased by 17,000, almost entirely in the durable goods