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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Transmission of material in this statement is embargoed until 
8:30 a.m. (ET) October 2, 2020.

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                      Friday, October 2, 2020

      Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 661,000 in 
September, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent. These 
improvements reflect the continued resumption of economic 
activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-
19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.
      In September, employment continued to increase in several 
industries, with the largest gains in leisure and hospitality, 
in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in 
professional and business services. By contrast, employment 
declined in government, mainly in state and local government 
      The September payroll employment increase of 661,000 
followed larger gains in the prior 4 months. As of September, 
total nonfarm payroll employment is down by 10.7 million (or 7.0 
percent) since February, before the pandemic unfolded in many 
parts of the United States.
      Although unemployment fell for the fifth month in a row in 
September, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed 
people are up by 4.4 percentage points and 6.8 million, 
respectively, since February.
      The response rate for the establishment survey was slightly 
below average in September. The rate for the household survey, 
while still below normal due to pandemic-related issues, was 
much higher than in recent months. The impact of the pandemic on 
the household and payroll surveys is detailed in the September 
Employment Situation news release and accompanying materials 
(see For 
both surveys, we were able to obtain estimates that meet BLS 
standards for accuracy and reliability.
      Taking a closer look at the September payroll data, 
employment in leisure and hospitality grew by 318,000, 
accounting for nearly half of the increase in total nonfarm 
employment. While leisure and hospitality has added 4.5 million 
jobs since April, employment in the industry is 3.8 million 
lower than in February. Within the industry, over-the-month job 
gains occurred in food services and drinking places (+200,000); 
amusements, gambling, and recreation (+69,000); and 
accommodation (+51,000).
      In September, retail trade added 142,000 jobs, following 
gains of 261,000 in August and 254,000 in July. Employment rose 
in most retail industries in September, with the largest 
increases occurring in clothing and accessories stores 
(+40,000), general merchandise stores (+20,000), motor vehicle 
and parts dealers (+16,000), and health and personal care stores 
      Employment increased by 108,000 in health care and social 
assistance in September. Health care added 53,000 jobs, with 
gains in offices of physicians (+18,000), home health care 
services (+16,000), and offices of other health practitioners 
(+14,000). Social assistance employment increased by 55,000 over 
the month, reflecting gains in individual and family services 
(+32,000) and child day care services (+18,000).
      Employment in professional and business services increased 
by 89,000 in September but is 1.4 million lower than in 
February. Over the month, employment rose in services to 
buildings and dwellings (+22,000), architectural and engineering 
services (+13,000), and computer systems design and related 
services (+12,000).
      Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 74,000 
in September. Although the industry has added 291,000 jobs since 
May, employment in transportation and warehousing remains 
304,000 lower than in February. Over the month, job gains 
occurred in warehousing and storage (+32,000), transit and 
ground passenger transportation (+21,000), and couriers and 
messengers (+10,000).
      Manufacturing employment increased by 66,000 in September. 
About two-thirds of the growth occurred in durable goods 
manufacturing, with the largest gains in motor vehicles and 
parts (+14,000) and in machinery (+14,000). Despite recent job 
gains, employment in manufacturing is down by 647,000 since 
      In September, financial activities added 37,000 jobs. 
Employment increased in real estate and rental and leasing 
(+20,000) and in finance and insurance (+16,000).
      Employment in the other services industry increased by 
36,000 in September, with membership associations and 
organizations accounting for most of the gain (+31,000). 
Employment in other services is 495,000 lower than in February.
      Information added 27,000 jobs in September, but employment 
in the industry is down by 276,000 since February. Most of the 
September gain occurred in motion picture and sound recording 
industries (+23,000).
      Construction added 26,000 jobs in September. Within the 
industry, employment rose in residential specialty trade 
contractors (+16,000) and in construction of buildings 
(+12,000). Construction has added 689,000 jobs over the past 5 
months, but employment in the industry remains 394,000 below the 
February level.
      Employment in wholesale trade increased by 19,000 in 
September. Job gains occurred in both the durable and nondurable 
goods components.
      In September, mining employment changed little (+1,000). 
Employment in the industry is down by 133,000 since a recent 
peak in January 2019; about three-fourths of this decline has 
occurred since February of this year.
      Employment in public- and private-sector education declined 
in September. In the public sector, employment in education fell 
by 49,000 in state government and by 231,000 in local 
government. Employment in private education fell by 69,000, 
offsetting a gain of 71,000 in August. Hiring for the return to 
school this year has been held back by the coronavirus and 
measures taken to contain the illness.
      Employment in federal government declined by 34,000 in 
September, driven by a loss of temporary workers who had been 
hired for the 2020 Census.
      Average weekly hours for all private-sector workers rose by 
0.1 hour in September to 34.7 hours. The average workweek for 
manufacturing rose by 0.2 hour in September to 40.2 hours. One 
should continue to be cautious when interpreting changes in the 
workweek at the total private level. In particular, large 
employment changes in industries with shorter- or longer-than- 
average workweeks can complicate monthly comparisons of average 
weekly hours.
      Similarly, changes in average hourly earnings in recent 
months must be interpreted with caution. Average hourly earnings 
of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls were little changed 
in September at $29.47 (+2 cents).
      Now turning to labor market indicators from the household 
survey, the unemployment rate declined by 0.5 percentage point 
to 7.9 percent in September, and the number of unemployed people 
fell by 1.0 million to 12.6 million. Both measures have 
decreased each month since May but remain much higher than in 
February, before the pandemic.
      The decrease in unemployment in September was driven by a 
decline of 1.5 million among people on temporary layoff. This 
was partially offset by an increase in the number of permanent 
job losers, which rose by 345,000 to 3.8 million, and an 
increase in the number of unemployed job leavers, which grew by 
212,000 to 801,000. (Job leavers are people who quit or 
voluntarily left their previous job and immediately began 
looking for new employment.)
      The unemployment rates fell in September for adult men (7.4 
percent), adult women (7.7 percent), Whites (7.0 percent), and 
Asians (8.9 percent). The rates for teenagers (15.9 percent), 
Blacks (12.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 percent) changed 
little over the month.
      Among the unemployed, the number of people searching for 
work for less than 5 weeks rose by 271,000 to 2.6 million in 
September. The number of unemployed people who were jobless 5 to 
14 weeks declined by 402,000 to 2.7 million. The number of 
people who were jobless 15 to 26 weeks fell by 1.6 million to 
4.9 million. The number of people searching for work for 27 
weeks or more (often referred to as the long-term unemployed) 
rose by 781,000 to 2.4 million.
      In September, the labor force participation rate decreased 
by 0.3 percentage point to 61.4 percent; the rate is 2.0 
percentage points lower than in February. The employment-
population ratio was 56.6 percent in September, little changed 
from the prior month but 4.5 percentage points lower than in 
      The number of people at work part time for economic reasons 
(also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 1.3 
million to 6.3 million in September, reflecting the continued 
decline in the number of people whose hours were cut due to 
slack work or business conditions. The over-the-month decline in 
involuntary part-time workers follows decreases of 871,000 in 
August and 619,000 in July, but the number of workers affected 
by this type of underemployment remains 2.0 million higher than 
its February level.
      The number of people not in the labor force who currently 
want a job was 7.2 million in September, little changed from 
August but 2.3 million higher than in February.
      Among those who were not in the labor force but wanted a 
job, 1.9 million were considered marginally attached to the 
labor force in September, little changed over the month. (People 
who are marginally attached to the labor force had not actively 
looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a 
job, were available for work, and had looked for a job within 
the last 12 months.) The number of discouraged workers, a subset 
of the marginally attached who believed no jobs were available 
for them, at 581,000 in September, also changed little over the 
      As has been the case since March, household survey 
interviewers were instructed in September to classify employed 
people absent from work due to temporary, coronavirus-related 
business closures or cutbacks as unemployed on temporary layoff.
      BLS and Census Bureau analyses of the underlying data 
suggest that there still may be some workers affected by the 
pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on 
temporary layoff. However, the share of responses that may have 
been misclassified was considerably smaller in recent months.
      For March through August, BLS published an estimate of what 
the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified workers 
been included. Repeating this same approach, the overall 
September unemployment rate would have been 0.4 percentage point 
higher than reported. However, this represents the upper bound 
of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the 
size of the misclassification error. BLS continues to conduct 
research on this issue. Additional information is available 
online at
      Looking at the supplemental pandemic-related measures from 
the household survey (these supplemental data are not seasonally 
adjusted), 22.7 percent of employed people teleworked in 
September because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 24.3 
percent in August. These data refer to employed people who 
teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 
weeks specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic.
      In September, 19.4 million people reported that they had 
been unable to work because their employer closed or lost 
business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all 
or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to 
the pandemic. This was 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.
      About 4.5 million people not in the labor force in 
September were prevented from looking for work due to the 
pandemic. This is down from 5.2 million in August. (To be 
counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be 
actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.)
      In summary, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 661,000 
in September, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent.

Last Modified Date: October 02, 2020