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A Glimpse into September Unemployment

  • Unemployment Rate in September 2020 decreases by 0.5 points down to 7.9%
  • 661,000 new jobs are created in September
  • Leisure and Hospitality, Retail Trade, and Healthcare among the top increases in employment
  • Transportation and Warehousing, Manufacturing, and Professional Services also show notable gains in employment
  • Government and Private Education show a decrease in employment
  • Average workweek in August is 34.7 hours (+0.1).

September shows signs of improvement on unemployment

As we shift into the school year, and move toward uncertainty of a possible second wave, the effects of COVID-19 still appear present on unemployment. In September, businesses begin hiring again to meet rising demand in most industries. Still, when comparing unemployment today compared to February 2020 (just before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic), we see that there is still quite a way to go before we return to business as usual.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics just released their State of Employment study for September 2020. This release highlights promise as employment continues to rise, creating new jobs (and bringing old ones back), and showing promise month over month, while setting a realistic standard when compared to previous data from earlier in the year. Here’s a breakdown of the statistics.

7.9%
Unemployment Rate
661,000
New Jobs in September
0.5%
Change from August

The unemployment rate provides our best look at overall unemployment throughout the US. Month-over-month we’ve seen unemployment decrease consistently since April when it reached an ultimate peak of 14.7%.

An increase of 661,000 jobs in September shows a slightly lower month-over-month gain as retail, hospitality and healthcare industries increase hiring efforts. This rise in employment is still lower than the February 2020 employment which highlighted 10.7 million (7%) more jobs than this month.

These number highlight the road ahead to bring employment back to a normal standard. Looking back at the last quarter we can see steps in the right direction.


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How long have people been unemployed?

In September 19.4 million persons reported that they were unable to work because their employer closed or lost business as a direct result of COVID-19. This has been a common situation since May, but how long have people been out of work? 

  • Less than 5 weeks: increased 271k
  • 5 – 14 weeks: decreased by 402k
  • 15 – 25 weeks: decreased by 1.6 million
  • +27 weeks: increased 781k

Hiring rates during COVID-19 (LinkedIn Report)

A report published by LinkedIn links hiring on their platform with COVID 19 cases by U.S. state. Bubbles in the following graphic reflect a 7-day average of cumulative cases.

States that have full reopened show the largest increase in hiring (incl. Georgia, Florida, Nevada), while others are cautious to reopen, thus limiting their rates of employment (California, New York, Washington).

Among the report another finding was that with remote hiring becoming more available, many job seekers are no longer focusing their efforts on local opportunities within their current city.


Industry Specific Updates in September

Just as we’ve seen in the previous months, the sweeping employment generalization is led by a few key industries, while others take longer to resume regular employment capacities. Here’s a summary of employment by industry.

The top industries actively hiring are: Leisure and Hospitality, Retail Trade, and Healthcare.

Leisure and Hospitality gained 318,000 employees primarily due to a spike in food services (+200k jobs). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics quotes the change in comparison to February “Despite job growth totalling 3.8 million over the last 5 months, employment in food services and drinking places is down by 2.3 million since February.

Retail Trade continues shows a notable increase in employment for two months in a row with 142,000 jobs this month. Within the industry notable gains include Clothing accessories stores (+40k jobs), general merchandise (+20k jobs), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+16k jobs) and health/personal care stores (+16k jobs).

Health Care and Social Assistance gained 108,000 jobs in September (-10 million from February). Healthcare adds 53k jobs, physicians add 18k jobs, social assistance ads 55k jobs, and daycare services add 18k jobs.

Professional and Business Services include 89,000 new jobs for the month of September. Employment increased in many aspects including: Building and dwellings (+22,000), Architecture and Engineering (+13,000), Computer Systems (+12,000).

Transportation and Warehousing increase by 74,000 jobs. Specific services include warehousing and storage with 32,000 new jobs, transportation with 21,000 new jobs, and couriers reporting 10,000 new jobs.

Manufacturing added 66,000 jobs in September. This spike is led by durable goods – responsible for two thirds of the increase. Still employment is 647,000 below February 2020.

Opposite to what was reported last month, Government employment declined by 216,000 in September. This is primarily due to the temporary hires in August in preparation for the 2020 Census. Despite the decrease local government reported an increase in 96,000 hires.


Overall hiring is trending upward for many businesses across the US. If you’re looking for executive level candidates consider the following resources:

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