While the decline has not been as sharp as anticipated, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting a national unemployment rate of 7.9%, with total nonfarm payroll employment now up by 661,000.
“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economy activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,” reports the BLS in its newest survey, Employment Situation Summary.
The summary continues: “In September, notable gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services.”
A subsequent statement issued by the Council of Economic Advisers noted that job gains have primarily been concentrated in low-earning industries, “which employ a large portion of minorities as well as those without college degrees, such as retail trade and leisure and hospitality.”
Altogether, the unemployment rate has declined by 6.8% since May.
Despite those good numbers, the country has still been challenged by a total historic loss of 11 million jobs since the onset of the pandemic. Moreover, notes the New York Times, “Nearly 700,000 people left the labor force, meaning they are no longer counted as unemployed.”
In addition, said the paper, “A rising share of the unemployed report that their job losses are permanent, rather than furloughs.”
The construction industry saw an increase of 22,100 new jobs in residential work. Of that number, 6,600 were in residential building and 1,500 were related to residential specialty contractors.
The nonresidential sector saw an increase of 4,000 jobs, with 2,000 additional jobs in the specialty trades.
In a statement, Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, said the industry is largely becoming a “tale of two sectors, as homebuilding and nonresidential thrives, but most other private, as well as public, construction shrinks.”
Simonson added that the latest numbers are in line with AGC’s earlier survey of construction company owners which revealed a plurality saying that it will take at least six months for business volumes to return to their pre-pandemic levels.
By Garry Boulard
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