Job Report: Job Growth Continues

Job growth continues in September with 661,000 new jobs created, and the unemployment rate drops to 7.9%

JOB GROWTH: In September, 661,000 jobs were created as businesses brought back more furloughed staff and operations expanded. Job creation numbers for the previous two months were revised upward by a combined 145,000.

TOP INDUSTRIES: Reflecting encouraging return-to-work trends in some of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, the strongest September gains were reported in leisure and hospitality (318,000 new jobs) and retail (142,000), followed by healthcare and social assistance (108,000) and professional and business services (89,000).

UNEMPLOYMENT: In September, the unemployment rate decreased to 7.9%, as more people found employment. This was the fifth consecutive month of declines, as the ranks of the unemployed dropped by another 1.0 million people to 12.6 million.

PANDEMIC SUPPLEMENT: To help gauge the impact of coronavirus on the labor market, BLS has expanded the questions it typically asks every month, reporting, for example, that 22.7% of the workforce worked remotely in September, down from 24.3% in August. Due to business slowdowns or closures, 19.4 million people worked fewer hours or none at all in September. This figure was down by nearly 5 million from the previous month.

WAGES: Average hourly earnings were largely unchanged from August to September.  

WORK WEEK: Additional time was spent at work in September, as the length of the average work week inched up to 34.7 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: While positive momentum continued in the temporary help sector, the pace of growth was significantly slower than in the past several months, with a gain of only 8,100 jobs in September.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The September jobs report offers continued optimism that the economy is moving in the right direction, reversing some of the damage inflicted by the pandemic closures. The speed of recovery is of concern, however, as job creation cycles more slowly with each successive month. Economists are unsure whether this signals a natural progression or a recovery plateau. Some uncertainty may be politically based; some due to delayed business reopenings. Despite these mixed signals, employers report continued challenges in filling open positions, prompting the need for innovative sourcing approaches and a strong partner in recruiting. 

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, CNN, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, FOX Business, MarketWatch