Reflections on the September 2020 BLS Report


Last Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its most recent Employment Situation report for September of 2020. It describes the continued trend of lowering unemployment rate, which hit 7.9% this month. Though this is still nowhere near the approximately 4% unemployment rate seen through most of 2019, thankfully, it is also far from the dismal 15% seen in March and April. This report also details which industries see job gains and losses, as well as household survey data for more specific employment insights.

Screen Shot 2020-10-05 at 5.39.43 PMGraphs from BLS Employment Situation Report

In September, the unemployment rate declined by 0.5% to 7.9%, and the total number of unemployed Americans dropped by 1 million to 12.6 million. For many months in a row now, there has been an upward trend in employment and, hopefully, in morale. However, though both the unemployment rate and number of unemployed persons have fallen for 5 consecutive months, they are still higher than what was seen in February by 4.4% or 6.8 million people. 

Certain job sectors benefited more than others this month. The most noteworthy job gains happened in the following industries: leisure and hospitality, retail trade, healthcare, and business services. Leisure and hospitality gained around 318,000 jobs in September, with about two-thirds coming from restaurants and dining. Retail trade employment saw gains across the industry (at around 142,000) but notably in clothing and general merchandising stores. Healthcare saw growth especially in offices of physicians and social assistance services. Finally, business services have gained almost a million employees back since April, but still see numbers much lower than in February.

On the flip side, government employment declined throughout the month of September -- predominantly in education at the local and state level (231,000 and 49,000, respectively). Additionally, the loss of the temporary Census 2020 workers recruited over the last few months also contributed to a decrease in government jobs at the federal level. 

Moving beyond industry, certain types of people benefitted more than others in terms of employment this month. The unemployment rates declined in September for adult men (7.4%), adult women (7.7%), Whites (7%), and Asians (8.9%). For the following groups, however, it remained mostly unchanged: teenagers (15.9%), Blacks (12.1%), and Hispanics (10.3%).

In addition to presenting the typical employment data, this report also included household survey data from two monthly surveys. It showed that:

  • 22.7% of employed Americans worked from home because of COVID, down slightly from August.
  • The number of people considered on "temporary layoff" decreased by 1.5 million in September, to 4.6 million total (down considerably from 18.1 million in April).
  • The number of "permanent job losers" increased slightly in September, by 345,000, to a total of 3.8 million.
  • September also saw a rise in unemployed "job leavers" (those who are unemployed because they voluntarily left their job) by 212,000 to 801,000, indicating that perhaps the slow rise of a feeling of security throughout the country has encouraged some people to seek a better fit in their employment.
  • People who were jobless for less than 5 weeks increased by 271,000, whereas people in the 5-14 weeks and 15-26 weeks jobless categories fell (by 402,000 and 1.6 million, respectively). However, the number of long-term unemployed increased by 781,000 to a current total of 2.4 million. 
  • 1.3 million fewer people were considered "involuntary part-time workers" or "part time for economic reasons" than last month, indicating an improvement of overall working conditions (employers cutting hours and not pushing workers who'd prefer full-time to part-time less often).
  • About 4.5 million people not currently in the labor force were prevented from looking for work due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Plan your recruiting strategy with Talent Market Date: Discover Insights

Here at Talroo, we'll consistently monitor employment trends, job seeker insights, and how the pandemic continues to shake up our world. Our October infographic, packed with real-time labor market data, is set to be published early next week.

Be sure to check out our previous infographics for more COVID-related insights, as well as other blog posts about employment trends on our blog home page. If you're interested in reading the full BLS report, you can find it here.

Topics: Recruiting Industry

Updated October 6, 2020