WASHINGTON, D.C. – Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market 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, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry.
For more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see the Technical Note.
Household Survey Data
In September, the unemployment rate declined by 0.5 percentage point to 7.9 percent, and 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.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in September for adult men (7.4 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), Whites (7.0 percent), and Asians (8.9 percent). The jobless rates for teenagers (15.9 percent), Blacks (12.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 percent) showed little change over the month.
Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 1.5 million in September to 4.6 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 3.8 million higher than in February. In September, the number of permanent job losers increased by 345,000 to 3.8 million; this measure has risen by 2.5 million since February. The number of unemployed job leavers rose by 212,000 to 801,000 in September. (Job leavers are persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and immediately began looking for new employment.)
In September, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks increased by 271,000 to 2.6 million. The number of persons jobless 5 to 14 weeks decreased by 402,000 to 2.7 million, and the number of persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks fell by 1.6 million to 4.9 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless
for 27 weeks or more) increased by 781,000 to 2.4 million.
The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 61.4 percent in September and is 2.0 percentage points lower than in February. The employment- population ratio, at 56.6 percent, changed little over the month but is 4.5 percentage points lower than in February.
In September, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 1.3 million to 6.3 million, reflecting a decrease in the number of persons whose hours were cut due to slack work
or business conditions. The number of involuntary part-time workers is 2.0 million higher than in February. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job, at 7.2 million, changed little in September; this measure is 2.3 million higher than in February. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the last 4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job.
Among those not in the labor force who currently want a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.9 million, changed little in September. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was 581,000 in September, also little changed from the previous month.
Household Survey Supplemental Data
In September, 22.7 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 24.3 percent in August. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically because of the pandemic.
In September, 19.4 million persons 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 measure is 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 persons 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.)