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The September Jobs Report

October 11, 2021 by Clare Coffey

Once again, the actual job gains for September failed to live up to estimates, according to a new Employment Situation report released by the BLS.

As we saw in August, the 317,000 jobs added to the private sector economy did not live up to previous estimates. On the other hand, actual gains for the month of August were revised upwards, from 235,000 to 366,000.

In any case, neither month has hit average monthly gains of around 500,000 new jobs added.

Part of the reason for comparatively sluggish growth may be falling public sector employment.

But even if private sector employment isn’t growing fast enough to compensate for public sector losses, there’s still plenty of demand there. Job postings peaked in May but have held mostly steady for June-September, with postings falling by 2.4% from June to July , -0.7% from July to August, and -4.6% from August to September.

Otherwise, it’s been an ongoing case of historically high demand that doesn’t translate into actual new jobs–more evidence that these roles are proving hard to fill

Industry Highlights:

  • Leisure and Hospitality saw the most growth, with 74,000 added jobs
  • The largest change overall was the decline in Government, which, as noted above, lost 123,000 jobs
  • Education and Health Services also lost 7,000 jobs
  • Professional and Business Services, Retail Trade, and Transportation and Warehousing were the biggest winners after Leisure and Hospitality, each adding between 47,000 and 60,000 jobs. 
  • Mining and logging only added 3,000 jobs, while Construction added 22,000 and Wholesale Trade added 17,000. The consumer-facing end of the supply chain is growing faster than the extractive and productive end, which may be relevant to ongoing supply chain woes.
  • In terms of posting growth, Transportation and Warehousing beat out Professional Business Services and Retail Trade, with a 15% increase in postings.
  • Only a few industries actually increased their postings in September. Most decreased their postings by between 2% and 16%.

Mixed News on Unemployment

Finally, there was one significant piece of good news from the last report. While unemployment across the board is only down by 0.4 percentage points, it decreased significantly more for African Americans, by almost one full percentage point.

Women, on the other hand, still show no dramatic re-entry into the workforce after the pandemic forced many out. Participation actually fell from 56.2% to 55.9%.

Only time will tell whether the last two below-estimate months are an aberration or an ongoing pattern. But with the holiday season approaching, there’s no reason to think Transportation and Warehousing, Retail Trade, and Leisure and Hospitality will be any less hungry for workers to meet consumer demand. The question is whether, and where, they will find them.

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