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BLS Employment Situation Report: September 2020


The U.S. economy added 661,000 non-farm jobs in September, below the 800,000 job growth expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. While millions remain unemployed, September’s activity means that approximately 12 million jobs have been recovered since the mid-March economic shutdown that saw about 22 million layoffs. September marks the first month since April that net hiring was below 1 million. Unemployment at 7.9% is now in line with previous recessions.

“Our Network of over 325 executive recruitment offices remains cautiously optimistic about the job growth reflected in today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said Bert Miller, president and CEO of MRINetwork. “Technical, managerial, and executive talent is in peak demand across a range of industries including construction, financial services, and healthcare. We’ve also seen a recent lift in legal and security tech opportunities. Across sectors, organizations are looking for leaders capable of thriving in, and in many cases driving, a culture adaptable to the present changing business and political environment.”

The BLS reported total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.9 percent. The number of unemployed persons fell by 1.0 million to 12.6 million. Both measures have declined for 5 consecutive months but are higher than in February, by 4.4 percentage points and 6.8 million, respectively.

“These data are consistent with a labor market that is rebounding, albeit at a slower pace than a few months ago, which should be enough to support consumers and consumption,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo in comments to Fox Business. “While risks remain, such as election and COVID-19-related uncertainty, we believe investors should continue to remain fully invested.”

In September, 22.7 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the pandemic, down from 24.3 percent in August, perhaps reflecting a trend of employers opening places of work as commuting restrictions were eased.

According to the BLS, these improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the pandemic and efforts to contain it. In September, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in healthcare and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education.

CNBC reported that while the third quarter is likely to see unprecedented growth in GDP after the historically sharp slowdown in Q2, “weekly jobless claims are still too high to call the recession over,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank.

As reported by the BLS, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 318,000 in September, with almost two-thirds of the gain occurring in food services and drinking places (+200,000). Amusements, gambling, and recreation (+69,000) and accommodation (+51,000) also added jobs in September.

Retail trade added 142,000 jobs over the month, with gains widespread in the industry. Clothing and clothing accessories stores (+40,000) accounted for about one-fourth of the over-the-month change in retail trade. Notable employment increases also occurred in general merchandise stores (+20,000), motor

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