Reflections on the October 2020 BLS Report

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Today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Summary for the month of October. Thankfully, the nature of the report doesn't match the spooky mood present throughout the rest of the month. This release shows the continued, albeit gradual, improvement of the unemployment rate and other factors surrounding the U.S.'s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Notable gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and the construction industry.

809E2098-ED82-4A76-87BE-6B10C505BB75Graphs from BLS Employment Situation Report

Over the month of October, total employment rose by 638,000 people, bringing the unemployment rate in the country to 6.9%, a full point less than it was in September. This is a steeper decrease than was seen from August to September, indicating improvement overall. It's also the closest that this number has been to "normal levels" since the beginning of COVID February's unemployment rate sat at 3.5%. Total unemployment is currently at 11.1 million people, falling by 1.5 million over the course of the past month. 

Some more good news: employment grew in every major worker category this month. The report describes that the unemployment rate was 6.7% and 6.5% for adult men and women, respectively, and just about doubled for teenagers at 13.9%. Across races, the unemployment rate was 6.0% for Whites, 10.8% for Blacks, 7.6% for Asians, and 8.8% for Hispanics. These numbers all show improvement from September.

Additionally, decreases were seen in the number of employment seekers across almost every job-seeking category. The number of people jobless 15-26 weeks decreased by 2.3 million to 2.6 million, jobless 5-14 weeks decreased by 457,000 to 2.3 million, and jobless less than 5 weeks stayed consistent at 2.5 million. However, those considered to be long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks+) saw their numbers increase from 2.4 million to 3.6 million people. 

Moving from job-seeking groups to industries, leisure and hospitality gained 271,000 jobs in the month of October, with food and drink places making up the bulk of them. Half of the 208,000 jobs gained in professional and business services over the month were in temporary help services. Additionally, construction added 84,000 jobs, healthcare and social assistance added 79,000, employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 63,000. Government employment fell throughout the month, though, by about 268,000 workers. A relief of the temporary 2020 Census workers made up 138,000 of those let go. 

One interesting feature pointed out in October's report is that the number of people employed part time for economic reasons (i.e., they'd rather be employed full-time) rose for the first time in 5 straight months of decline, growing by 383,000 to 6.7 million. A finale thing worth noting from this report is that the average hourly earnings for all (nonfarm) employees currently sits at $29.50, although this trend is hard to analyze given all of the fluctuations in the market currently and over the past few months.

The October report's household survey data also showed that:

  • 21.2 percent of employed people worked from home due to the pandemic (a slight decrease from September's 22.7 percent).
  • 15.1 million people reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. 11.7 percent of them received some sort of compensation from their employer because of it.
  • About 3.6 million people not in the labor force were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, down from 4.5 million in September.

Plan your recruiting strategy with Talent Market Date: Discover Insights

Talroo will continue to monitor how the pandemic is affecting employment, the job market, and both employer and job seeker demand, with a new infographic featuring real-time job seeker data coming soon. You can find our previous infographics, many of which discuss the implications of COVID-19 on the job market, on our content resources page.

Topics: Recruiting Industry

Updated November 6, 2020