Great News on Employment and Unemployment

On the first Friday of October I laid out the somewhat good news on employment and unemployment for September. This Friday (today), the news is fantastic!

1. The number of people employed increased by 2.243 million. A typical increase in normal times is between 0.2 and 0.3 million, so this is 7 to 10 times as large.

2. The employment to population ratio increased from 56.6 percent to 57.4 percent, a large increase.

3. The number of people unemployed fell from 12.580 million to 11.061 million, a drop of 1.519 million.

4. The unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent to 6.9 percent.

5. The unemployment rate for people in every single category: black, white, men, women, teenagers, Asian, and Hispanic or Latino, fell. For many of those groups it fell by more than 1 percentage point.

The above are all data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey.

The data from the establishment survey are also good, especially in the details.

1. Private employment rose by 906,000.

2. Leisure and hospitality, one of the sectors hardest hit by both the pandemic and the lockdowns, rose by 208,000.

3. Government employment fell by 268,000.

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August Wisconsin Employment: Continued Slow Recovery?

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More Good News on U.S. Employment


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.8 million in July, and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. In July, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, government, retail trade, professional and business services, other services, and health care.

This is the opening paragraph of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ news release today on the jobs numbers for July.

This is not nearly as good as the June numbers, which were very good. Nevertheless, any month in which the number of people employed rises by more than half a percent is a very good month. (Household data show that 142.2 million people were employed in June and that that had risen by 1.35 million in July, an increase of 0.9%.)

Also heartening for hospitality workers, who have taken the brunt of the job losses, is that their employment increased considerably. Here’s the relevant paragraph of the press release:

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 592,000, accounting for about one-third of the gain in total nonfarm employment in July. Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 502,000, following gains of 2.9 million in May and June combined. Despite the gains over the last 3 months, employment in food services and drinking places is down by 2.6 million since February. Over the month, employment also rose in amusements, gambling, and recreation (+100,000).

I have pointed out how much better the numbers would be if a bipartisan majority in Congress had not, in March, legislated a $600 per week unemployment benefit on top of normal state benefits. That benefit expired last Friday. If Congress does not renew that benefit, I expect an even bigger increase in August, which would be reported on September 4. I also expect, however, that Congress will renew a modified version of this benefit.

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