The Department of Labor’s Employment Situation report for September is just barely better than the August report. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.1%, while just 103,000 new jobs were added. Remember that, last month, 45,000 telecommunications employees from Verizon’s U.S. Northeast wireline unit went on strike, and then most eventually returned to work under the terms of their old contract.
So, if you cancel those out, we’re actually looking at 58,000 added positions. As a benchmark, 150,000 positions would need to be added each month just to keep up with population growth, so the employment situation is still bleak.
In this article, we will discuss relevant figures from the September Employment Situation report.
How many U.S. residents were unemployed this past September?
Just like in the August Employment Situation report, about 14 million people were unemployed. The size of the labor force increased slightly from 153.6 million people in August to 154 million people in September.
How many people were not looking for jobs, but still interested in working?
The number of people interested in working but not actively seeking employment, considered “marginally attached to the labor force,” edged down slightly this past month. In August, there were 2.6 million “marginally attached” people, while in September, there were 2.5 million. This is basically the same number reported in last year’s September Employment Situation report.
Within this group of 2.5 million “marginally attached” workers, 1,037,000 were “discouraged workers.” These people felt the job market was too difficult, their education or training had been inadequate, or that employers would discriminate against them. This is a small increase from the 977,000 “discouraged workers” in August.
So, where did the relatively few jobs added come from?
In September, the professional and business services sector jumped forward, adding 48,000 positions. Among the hottest services were systems design, management, and technical consulting services.
What exactly is the “professional and business services” sector? According to the Department of Labor, it’s a supersector that actually includes 3 different parts.
The first is the professional, scientific, and technical services sector. Workers in this group include lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers, architects, engineers, designers, programmers, consultants, researchers, advertising specialists, photographers, translators, interpreters, veterinarians, and other professionals, scientists, and technical gurus.
The next sector within the professional and business services group is the management of companies and enterprises sector. This sector is composed of legal entities that hold securities or other equity interests in companies or enterprises. They do not actually administer, oversee, or manage companies—they use the money to keep a controlling interest or influence management decisions.
The third sector is made up of the administrative and support and waste management and remediation services sector. The people in this sector perform many day-to-day tasks needed to run a business. Workers in this group include office assistants, human resources personnel, clerical workers, collection specialists, security guards, janitors, and other workplace helpers.
Temporary help hires are also part of the professional and business services sector.
So, this boost in the professional and business services sector could be seen as a good sign for the average worker. At least companies are confident enough to hire people for the tasks they need.
The other job creating superstar was, of course, health care. Health care positions, always the silver lining in post-recession Employment Situation reports, increased by 44,000. Ambulatory health care services are still in high demand, with 26,000 positions, while hospitals added 13,000 more positions.
Were there any significant changes in the unemployment rates for the major U.S. demographic groups?
Not really. They were quite similar to the August numbers.
The teen unemployment rate did drop from 25.4% in August to 24.6% in September. The unemployment rate for black Americans also dropped from 16.7% in August to 16.0% in September.
The jobless rate for Asians rose from 7.1% in August to 7.8% in September, not seasonally adjusted.
What are some other interesting features of the September Employment Situation report?
The September Employment Situation report shows a continuing trend toward Americans taking part-time work, but not by choice. In July, there were 2.5 million Americans who worked part-time but wanted full-time work. In August, there were 2.7 million, and in September, there were 2.8 million. If we compare this number to last September’s count, 2.5 million, we can see that involuntarily working part-time is becoming more common.
The job hunting strategy at the moment seems to be “take what you can get” in terms of hours.
The bottom line on the September Employment Situation report…
This past month, relatively few new positions were added, although many Verizon workers who were on strike did return to work, boosting the overall numbers. The professional and business services sector picked up, while the health care sector stayed strong. It seems Americans are dealing with the difficult Employment Situation by taking part-time jobs, even if they would prefer full-time work.
While a part-time job may not be as prestigious as the employment you’re used to, it will at least prevent the gaps in employment that can throw your resume off balance and lead to prodding interview questions. It can also help prevent you from becoming a victim of discrimination against the unemployed as you continue to look for full-time work, an increasingly common problem in post-recession America. According to a recent study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, employers are less likely to interview or hire unemployed applicants, all other factors being equal. This holds true whether the applicant reports being laid off or quitting, despite the fact that society in general does not seem to view workers who were laid-off negatively today. Plus, of course, a part-time job will make you some money.
So, hang in there, do what you can to improve your resume now, and remember that the economy will improve eventually.