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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – September 2015

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Unemployment Rate – September 2015

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

In September the unemployment rate remained at its lowest level in seven years, but net job growth fell short of analysts’ expectations for the second month in a row.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 118,000 nonfarm job gains in September. Local, state and federal governments netted 24,000 job gains, resulting in 142,000 total net job gains. Analysts had expected around 200,000-203,000 total net job gains.

The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.1 percent. That’s the lowest rate since April of 2008 when it was 5.0 percent, but beginning to rapidly rise toward the recessionary high of 10.0 set in October 2009.

The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 67 consecutive months since the Great Recession. The unemployment rate has dropped 4.9 percentage points from the recessionary high.

The BLS also revised job gains for July and August, showing that the economy netted 59,000 fewer jobs than the BLS had previously estimated for the two months. So far in 2015, net job gains have averaged 198,000 per month. (In 2014, they averaged 260,000 per month.) They averaged only 167,000 per month over the past three months. The economy needs a monthly net average of about 100,000 jobs just to keep up with population growth.

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At 34,000, job growth continued in health care. The industry has netted an average of 38,000 jobs per month in the past year. 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.

Job growth also continued in the professional and business services industry at 31,000. Temporary help services (“temp workers”) gained 4,600 of those. Net job growth has averaged 45,000 per month so far in 2015.

Job growth continued in food services and drinking places, too. This time the industry netted 21,000 jobs. The industry has added 349,000 jobs over the past year.

The retial trade gained 24,000 jobs in September. The industry netted an average of 27,000 jobs per month in the year prior to September.

Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor-market health, lost 9,000 jobs in September after losing 18,000 in August. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, gained 8,000 jobs.

Analysts have indicated that the slowdown in U.S. job growth is attributable to the increased volatility in global financial markets, and to the collapse in oil and gasoline prices. U.S. energy companies have had to layoff thousands of workers; for example, 10,300 oil and gas extraction workers lost their jobs in September. Of course, layoffs offset job gains.

Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (16.3 percent) followed by blacks (9.2), Hispanics (6.4), adult men (4.7), adult women (4.6), whites (4.4) and Asians (3.6, not seasonally adjusted). No group experienced a significant change in their unemployment rate.

Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 2.5 percent unemployment rate in September, the same as in August. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 7.9 percent rate, up from 7.7 percent in August. See Table A-5 by the BLS for more information about the unemployment rate by education level.

Unemployment Rate 2008 to 2015
Unemployment Rate Chart 2008 to 2015

The unemployment rate remained at 5.1 percent in September, after falling in August from 5.3 in July. The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in September was 7.9 million, down slightly from 8.0 million in August. The number of unemployed workers has decreased by 1.3 million in the past year.

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 6.0 million, down from 6.5 million in August.

The average workweek for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector declined by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours in September. Their average hourly earnings declined by 1 cent to $25.09, after gaining 9 cents in August. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent in a year.

Average hourly earnings remained at $21.08 in September for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, after rising by 5 cents in August.

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 — at least not for them.

The number of marginally-attached workers in September was 1.9 million, up slightly from 1.8 million in August. Among the marginally-attached, 635,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. The number of discouraged workers was up by 11,000 from the 624,000 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 2.1 million in September, down slightly from 2.2 million in August. These workers accounted for 26.6 percent of the unemployed. 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 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the October 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers on November 6. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, 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.

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