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Employment Blog November 2020

This employment report is taken from the U S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 638,000 in October, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.9 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 October, private nonfarm employment rose by 906,000. Employment rose in several private-sector industries, with the largest gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction. By contrast, employment in government declined by 268,000. Total nonfarm payroll employment has increased for 6 consecutive months but is down by 10.1 million (or 6.6 percent) since February, before the onset of the pandemic in the United States. Although unemployment fell for the sixth month in a row in October, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed people are up by 3.4 percentage points and 5.3 million, respectively, since February.

Taking a closer look at the October payroll data, employment in leisure and hospitality grew by 271,000, accounting for about two-fifths of the over-the-month growth in total nonfarm employment. While leisure and hospitality has added 4.8 million jobs since April, employment is 3.5 million lower than in February. Within the industry, employment rose over the month in food services and drinking places (+192,000); arts, entertainment, and recreation (+44,000); and accommodation (+34,000).

Employment in professional and business services increased by 208,000 in October, with about half of the gain occurring in temporary help services (+109,000).

Other notable job gains occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+19,000), computer systems design (+16,000), management and technical consulting (+15,000), and investigation and security services (+12,000). Overall, employment in professional and business services is 1.1 million below its February level.

In October, retail trade added 104,000 jobs. Within the industry, job gains occurred in electronics and appliance stores (+31,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+23,000), furniture and home furnishings stores (+14,000), clothing and accessories stores (+13,000), general merchandise stores (+10,000), and nonstore retailers (+9,000). Since February, retail trade employment is down by 499,000.

Construction employment increased by 84,000 in October, but is down by 294,000 since February. About half of the October gain occurred in specialty trade contractors, with increases in both the nonresidential (+28,000) and residential (+18,000) components. Elsewhere in the industry, heavy and civil engineering construction (+19,000) and construction of buildings (+19,000) also added jobs.

In October, employment increased by 79,000 in health care and social assistance. Health care employment increased by 58,000, with the largest gains in hospitals (+16,000), offices of physicians (+14,000), offices of dentists (+11,000), and outpatient care centers (+10,000). Nursing and residential care facilities lost 9,000 jobs over the month, and employment has declined by 238,000 since February. Social assistance added 21,000 jobs over the month.

In October, employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 63,000, with the largest gains occurring in warehousing and storage (+28,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+25,000), and truck transportation (+10,000). These gains were partially offset by job losses in air transportation (-18,000). Overall, employment in transportation and warehousing is down by 271,000 since February.

Employment in other services increased by 47,000 in October, with gains in personal and laundry services (+27,000) and repair and maintenance (+18,000). Since February, employment in other services is down by 436,000.

Manufacturing added 38,000 jobs in October, with gains about evenly split between durable goods (+21,000) and nondurable goods (+17,000). Manufacturing employment is down by 621,000 since February.

Employment in financial activities increased by 31,000 in October. Over the month, job gains occurred in finance and insurance (+17,000) and in real estate (+10,000). Since February, financial activities employment is down by 129,000.

In October, employment in government declined by 268,000. Federal government employment was down by 138,000, reflecting a loss of 147,000 temporary workers who had been hired for the 2020 Census. State and local government each lost 65,000 jobs, driven by employment declines in their education components.

Employment in other major industries–including mining, wholesale trade, and information–showed little change over the month.

Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.1 percent from September to October, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from an increase of 0.1 percent in average hourly earnings combined with no change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).Real average weekly earnings increased 0.1 percent over the month due to the change in real average hourly earnings combined with no change in the average workweek.


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