Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 531,000 in October, and the unemployment rate edged down by 0.2 percentage points to 4.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Job growth was widespread, with notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in public education declined over the month.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up by 117,000, from +366,000 to +483,000, and the change for September was revised up by 118,000, from +194,000 to +312,000. With these revisions, employment in August and September combined is 235,000 higher than previously reported.
Household Survey Data
The unemployment rate edged down to 4.6 percent in October.
The number of unemployed persons, at 7.4 million, continued to trend down. Both measures are down considerably from their highs at the end of the February-April 2020 recession.
However, they remain above their levels prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively, in February 2020).
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (4.3 percent) declined in October. The jobless rates for adult women (4.4 percent), teenagers (11.9 percent), Whites (4.0 percent), Blacks (7.9 percent), Asians (4.2 percent), and Hispanics (5.9 percent) showed little or no change over the month.
Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers, at 2.1 million, changed little in October but is 828,000 higher than in February 2020.
The number of persons on temporary layoff, at 1.1 million, was little changed over the month.
This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.0 million in April 2020 but is 306,000 above the February 2020 level.
In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 357,000 to 2.3 million but is 1.2 million higher than in February 2020.
The long-term unemployed accounted for 31.6 percent of the total unemployed in October.
The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6 percent in October and has remained within a narrow range of 61.4 percent to 61.7 percent since June 2020.
The participation rate is 1.7 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The employment-population ratio, at 58.8 percent, was little changed over the month.
This measure is up from its low of 51.3 percent in April 2020 but remains below the figure of 61.1 percent in February 2020.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.4 million, was little changed in October.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. This measure has essentially returned to its February 2020 level.
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 6.0 million in October, essentially unchanged over the month but up by 968,000 since February 2020.
These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.
Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force was little changed at 1.7 million in October.
These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was essentially unchanged over the month at 455,000.
Household Survey Supplemental Data
In October, 11.6 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 13.2 percent in the prior month.
These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey specifically because of the pandemic.
In October, 3.8 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey due to the pandemic.
This measure is down from 5.0 million in September. Among those who reported in October that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 13.3 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, little changed from the prior month.
Among those not in the labor force in October, 1.3 million persons were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic.
This measure is down from 1.6 million in September. To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.
These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey beginning in May 2020 to help gauge the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. The data are not seasonally adjusted.
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 531,000 in October. Thus far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 582,000.
Nonfarm employment has increased by 18.2 million since a recent trough in April 2020 but is down by 4.2 million, or 2.8 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Job growth was widespread in October, with notable job gains occurring in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in transportation and warehousing.
Employment in public education declined over the month.
Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 164,000 in October and has risen by 2.4 million thus far in 2021.
Over the month, employment rose by 119,000 in food services and drinking places and by 23,000 in accommodation. Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.4 million, or 8.2 percent, since February 2020.
Professional and business services added 100,000 jobs in October, including a gain of 41,000 in temporary help services.
Employment continued to rise in management and technical consulting services (+14,000), other professional and technical services (+9,000), scientific research and development services (+6,000), and legal services (+5,000).
Employment in professional and business services is 215,000 below its level in February 2020.
Employment in manufacturing increased by 60,000 in October, led by a gain in motor vehicles and parts (+28,000).
Employment also rose in fabricated metal products (+6,000), chemicals (+6,000), and printing and related support activities (+4,000). Manufacturing employment is down by 270,000 since February 2020.
Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 54,000 in October and is 149,000 above its February 2020 level.
In October, job gains occurred in warehousing and storage (+20,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+16,000), air transportation (+9,000), and truck transportation (+8,000). Employment in couriers and messengers decreased by 5,000 in October, after increasing in the prior 3 months.
Construction employment rose by 44,000 in October, following an increase of 30,000 in September.
In October, employment increased in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+19,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+12,000). Construction employment is 150,000 below its February 2020 level.
Health care added 37,000 jobs in October, with most of the gain occurring in home health care services (+16,000) and nursing care facilities (+12,000). Employment in health care is down by 460,000 since February 2020.
In October, employment in retail trade rose by 35,000.
Employment gains occurred in food and beverage stores (+16,000), general merchandise stores (+15,000), health and personal care stores (+8,000), and electronics and appliance stores (+6,000). These gains were partially offset by a job loss in building material and garden supply stores (-10,000). Retail trade employment is 140,000 lower than its level in February 2020.
Employment in the other services industry increased by 33,000 in October, as personal and laundry services added 28,000 jobs. Employment in other services is 169,000 below its February 2020 level.
Employment in financial activities rose by 21,000 in October and has returned to its February 2020 level. Over the month, job growth occurred in real estate and rental and leasing (+12,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+11,000).
Employment in wholesale trade increased by 14,000 in October, reflecting a gain in the durable goods component. Employment in wholesale trade is 158,000 lower than in February 2020.
Mining employment continued to trend up in October (+5,000) but is down by 87,000 from a peak in January 2019.
In October, employment decreased in local government education and state government education (-43,000 and -22,000, respectively). Employment changed little in private education (+17,000).
Recent employment changes in public and private education are challenging to interpret, as pandemic-related staffing fluctuations have distorted the normal seasonal hiring and layoff patterns.
Since February 2020, employment is down by 370,000 in local government education, by 205,000 in state government education, and by 148,000 in private education.
Employment in information changed little in October (+10,000) but is 122,000 lower than in February 2020.
In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 11 cents to $30.96, following large increases in the prior 6 months.
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.9 percent. In October, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 10 cents to $26.26.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hours to 34.7 hours. In manufacturing, the average workweek edged down by 0.1 hours to 40.3 hours, and overtime edged down by 0.1 hours to 3.2 hours.
The average workweek for production and non-supervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hours to 34.1 hours.