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April 2002, Vol. 125, No. 4
Employment in business services: a year of unprecedented declineRachel Krantz
After nearly a decade of unparalleled
growth, the number of jobs in business
services peaked in September 2000 and then began the steepest job loss in the 43-year history of the industry. In the 12 months between September 2000 and September 2001, employment in business services fell by 384,000, or 4 percent.1
The industries within business services were affected to varying degrees by the recent economic downturn, which was officially declared a recession halfway through the 12-month period covered in this article.2 Thus, the employment decline in business services led the beginning of the recession by 6 months. Chart 1 shows the difference between the rate of change in employment from September 2000 to September 2001 and the average annual rate of change in employment from September 1995 to September 2000. With the exception of miscellaneous equipment rental and leasing, which showed almost no difference, all component industries were notably weak relative to their recent performance history. (for more industry details and data, see table 1.)
Two components of business services account for 59 percent of its employment: personnel supply services and computer and data-processing services. (see chart 2.) Since September 2000, these industries and (to a lesser extent) advertising were the weakest industries within business services. Another large industry, miscellaneous business services, also was weak relative to its recent past. (see chart 3.) This article examines employment trends over the last several years in these four industries and offers reasons for the varying degree of their vulnerability in the recent economic climate.
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1 The figures are from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The program produces estimates of all employees on nonfarm payrolls, except in private households, based on a monthly survey of about 300,000 worksites. Data from the survey appear in the Bureau’s monthly periodical Employment and Earnings. ces data in this article are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise indicated.
2 In November 2001, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the recession had begun in March 2001. (See NBER report, on the Internet at http://www.nber.org/cycles/recessions.html (visited Jan. 3, 2002).
Related BLS programs
National Current Employment Statistics
services industries affected by recessions and expansions—Oct.
The job market in 2000: slowing down as the year ended—Feb. 2001.
Employment shifts in high-technology industries, 1988-96.—June 1997.
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