September Jobs Report: Economy Chugs Ahead As Nation Heads to Ballot Box

October 2, 2020

The latest jobs numbers for September 2020 are out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What do they mean for job seekers, employers and investors? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

The nation’s economy continued to dig its way out of the steepest recession since the Great Depression in September. In the final report before Election Day, today’s report reveals a two-sided economy: More than 12.6 million Americans remain out of work as COVID-19 rages on, while in other pockets of the economy employers added hundreds of thousands of new jobs, as state and local governments relax health restrictions and consumers begin to venture out after months of sheltering in place.

Payrolls Up, But Miss Expectations in September

Payroll employment increased by 661,000 million in September, slowing from an upward-revised 1.49 million gain in August, according to today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase in payrolls is historically large, but still well below most economists’ expectations of roughly 1 million jobs gains and still down more than 10 million jobs from before the initial onset of the pandemic. And the unemployment rate, falling to 7.9 percent, is still at its highest point since January 2013, despite falling from 8.4 percent last month.

Millions of Furloughed Service Workers Recalled to Jobs

The number of workers on temporary layoff declined sharply from 6.2 million last month to 4.6 million in September, a reminder that the nation’s impressive job growth in September is still largely driven by rehiring of furloughed workers as a patchwork of state and local government health restrictions are gradually lifted throughout the country. 

Leisure and Hospitality Lead Recovery As Economies Reopen

The recovery is primarily driven by continued rehiring in the hardest-hit industries including  leisure and hospitality (adding a stunning 318,000 new jobs), retail (adding 142,400 jobs) and health care and social assistance (adding 107,700 jobs). Job gains were broadbased, with most sectors of the economy adding to payrolls in September. The only major area of the job market to lose jobs last month was government, which shed 216,000 jobs in September.

With a historic presidential election looming next month, today’s jobs report is the closing argument for a president who has made the economy a crucial plank of his campaign. While below economist’s expectations for job gains, this month’s report shows an economy that continues to rebound from the dramatic COVID-19-induced downturn in April. While millions of Americans today still remain unemployed, supporters of the current Administration will likely point to historically large job gains last month, as temporarily sidelined restaurant and tourism workers are recalled to jobs. 

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.