The unemployment rate dropped to a six-year low in September, while job growth in the month was the most since June.
According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 236,000 nonfarm job gains and local, state, and federal governments netted 12,000.
The total net job gain in September was 248,000, the most monthly job gains since 264,000 in June. The September unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, down from 6.1 percent in August and the lowest rate since 5.8 percent in July 2008.
The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 55 consecutive months since the Great Recession, the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in U.S. history. The U.S. economy has created over 10 million private-sector jobs since the recession. The unemployment rate has dropped 4.1 percentage points from the recessionary high of 10 percent in October 2009.
The BLS revised job gains for July and August, showing that the economy netted 69,000 more jobs over the two months than it had previously reported. The economy netted an average of 213,000 jobs per month in the twelve months prior to September.
At a whopping 81,000, job growth continued in the professional and business services industry. Employment services gained 34,000 of those, while management and technical consulting services gained 12,000, and architectural and engineering services gained 6,000. The industry as a whole netted an average of 56,000 jobs per month in the twelve months prior to September.
The retail trade industry gained 35,000 jobs in September. That’s partly because about 17,000 food and beverage workers returned to work after August employment disruptions at a New England grocery store chain. Job growth in retail trade has increased by 264,000 over the past year.
Health care added 23,000 jobs in September. The industry had added an average of 20,000 jobs per month in the twelve months prior to September. Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years, even throughout the Great Recession, is attributable to the increasing medical demands of aging baby boomers and the ever-growing obesity epidemic, and to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as well.
Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor market health, gained only 4,000 jobs in September. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health to economists, gained 16,000 jobs. Employment in construction has continued to trend upward over the past year, with 230,000 job gains.
Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (20.0 percent) followed by blacks (11.0), Hispanics (6.9), adult women (5.5), adult men (5.3), whites (5.1) and Asians (4.3, not seasonally adjusted). Adult men, whites and Hispanics experienced an unemployment rate drop from August. All other groups saw little change.
Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 2.9 percent unemployment rate in September, down from 3.2 in August. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 8.4 percent rate, but at least that was down significantly from 9.1 in August.
The unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in September, partly because of the good job growth numbers and partly because more workers stopped looking for jobs than in August. For the BLS to count workers as unemployed (to calculate the unemployment rate), they must be actively seeking jobs in the four weeks preceding the count.
The BLS counted 9.3 million workers as unemployed in September, down by 329,000 from August. The number of unemployed workers has declined by 1.9 million over the past year, while the unemployment rate has declined by 1.3 percentage points.
The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in September was 7.1 million, down from 7.3 million in August.
The average workweek for both part-timers and full-timers was 34.6 hours in September, up by 0.1 hour after holding steady at 34.5 for six consecutive months. Average hourly earnings dropped by one cent to $24.53 for all private-sector employees. Average earnings were unchanged at $20.67/hour for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.0 percent in a year for all private-sector employees.
The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs.
The number of marginally-attached workers in September was 2.2 million, up slightly from 2.1 million in August. Among the marginally-attached, 698,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs — at least not for them. The number of discouraged workers was down by 77,000 from the 775,000 that the BLS initially reported for August. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)
The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was essentially unchanged from August at 3.0 million. These workers accounted for 31.9 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed workers has declined by 1.2 million over the past year. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.
If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.
For more details about the September 2014 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the October 2014 unemployment rate and job numbers on November 7. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.
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Certain figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.