Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 194,000 in September, and the unemployment rate
fell by 0.4 percentage point to 4.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business
services, in retail trade, and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in public
education declined over the month.
The report did increase estimates for the previous two months.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised up by 38,000, from +1,053,000 to +1,091,000, and the change for August was revised up by 131,000, from +235,000 to +366,000. With these revisions, employment in July and August combined is 169,000 higher than previously reported.
Calculated Risk reports the September numbers were well below expectations.
The Associated Press writes,
The economy is showing some signs of emerging from the drag of the delta variant of the coronavirus, with confirmed new COVID-19 infections declining, restaurant traffic picking up slightly and consumers willing to spend. But new infections remained high as September began. And employers are still struggling to find workers because many people who lost jobs in the pandemic have yet to start looking again. Supply chain bottlenecks have also worsened, slowing factories, restraining homebuilders and emptying some store shelves.
The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one — known as labor participation — declined in September from 61.7% to 61.6%, well below the pre-pandemic level of 63.3%, Friday’s report said. Many economists had hoped that the reopening of schools, the expiration of federal unemployment benefits and a quickening pace of vaccinations would have led more to search for jobs. That didn’t happen last month.
Last month’s drop in labor participation was reflective entirely of women, suggesting that many working mothers are still caring for children at home. For men, labor participation was unchanged.
From The Wall Street Journal:
The figures add to evidence that fears about the virus and global supply constraints continue to hold back the economic recovery. The biggest factor behind last month’s weak payroll gain was a decline in public-sector jobs, mainly at schools. Employment in private-sector industries rose by 317,000 in September, with modest gains across several industries.
The spread this summer of the Delta variant, a particularly contagious strain of Covid-19, likely spooked would-be job seekers and impeded speedier job growth in September, despite many companies being desperate to hire, economists and business leaders say.
“Ramped up production may be necessary, but you can’t find the employees to ramp it up,” said Ann Silver, head of the local Chamber of Commerce in Reno, Nev. “We’re hearing that from every sector—hospitality and touring, healthcare, you name it. People can’t be found. Everybody’s quick to say, ‘Wow, the economy is rebounding.’ Well, it can’t without human beings.”
Right. Once again, the ADP employment report proved to be of scant predictive value.