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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Transmission of material in this statement is embargoed until 
8:30 a.m. (ET) August 7, 2020. 

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                        Friday, August 7, 2020

      Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 1.8 million in 
July, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage point 
to 10.2 percent. These improvements reflect the continued 
resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to 
the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.
      In July, employment rose in several major industries, with 
the largest gains in leisure and hospitality, government, retail 
trade, professional and business services, other services, and 
health care.
      The rate of recovery in the labor market slowed in July, as 
job growth over the month was less than half that for June. As 
of July, total nonfarm employment is 12.9 million, or 8.4 
percent, lower than in February, before the pandemic crisis 
unfolded in many parts of the United States. Similarly, although 
unemployment continued to fall in July, the unemployment rate 
and the number of unemployed people are up by 6.7 percentage 
points and 10.6 million, respectively, since February.
      The response rate for the household survey continued to be 
adversely affected by pandemic-related issues. The response rate 
for the establishment survey was above normal for July, 
reflecting a longer-than-average collection period. The impact 
of the pandemic on the household and payroll surveys is detailed 
in the July Employment Situation news release and accompanying 
materials (see For 
both surveys, we were still able to obtain estimates that meet 
BLS standards for accuracy and reliability.
      Taking a closer look at the July payroll data, employment 
in leisure and hospitality increased by 592,000, accounting for 
about one-third of the over-the-month growth in total nonfarm 
employment. Within the industry, food services and drinking 
places added 502,000 jobs over the month, following gains of 1.5 
million each in May and June. Despite gains over the past 3 
months, employment in food services and drinking places is 2.6 
million lower than in February. Elsewhere in leisure and 
hospitality, employment in amusements, gambling, and recreation 
increased by 100,000 in July.
      Employment in government rose by 301,000 in July but is 1.1 
million lower than its February level. Typically, public-sector 
education employment declines in July before seasonal 
adjustment. This year, however, employment declines occurred 
earlier than usual due to the pandemic, resulting in unusually 
large July employment increases in local government education 
(+215,000) and state government education (+30,000) after 
seasonal adjustment. Federal government employment increased by 
27,000 over the month, reflecting the hiring of temporary 
workers for the 2020 Census. The U.S. Postal Service lost jobs 
over the month (-5,000).
      In July, retail trade employment increased by 258,000, 
following increases of 827,000 in June and 386,000 in May. 
Despite these gains, employment in retail trade remains 913,000 
below its February level. Employment rose in most retail 
industries in July, although almost half of the gain occurred in 
clothing and accessories stores (+121,000). By contrast, 
employment declined in the component of general merchandise 
stores that includes warehouse clubs and supercenters (-64,000) 
and in food and beverage stores (-19,000).
      In July, professional and business services added 170,000 
jobs, with most of the gain occurring in temporary help services 
(+144,000). By contrast, there were job losses in management of 
companies and enterprises (-12,000). Since February, employment 
in professional and business services is down by 1.6 million.
      Employment in the other services industry increased by 
149,000 in July, with personal and laundry services accounting 
for most of the gain (+119,000). Employment in other services is 
627,000 lower than in February.
      In July, health care added 126,000 jobs, with increases in 
offices of dentists (+45,000), hospitals (+27,000), and offices 
of physicians (+26,000). Elsewhere in health care, job losses 
continued over the month in nursing and residential care 
facilities (-28,000). Employment in health care is down by 
797,000 since February.
      Employment in social assistance increased by 66,000 in 
July, with gains in child day care services (+45,000) and in 
emergency and other relief services (+6,000). Employment in 
social assistance is 460,000 lower than in February.
      Transportation and warehousing added 38,000 jobs in July, 
following an increase of 87,000 in June. Although job growth has 
occurred over the past 2 months, transportation and warehousing 
has lost 470,000 jobs since a recent employment peak in January. 
In July, job gains occurred in transit and ground passenger 
transportation (+20,000), air transportation (+16,000), and 
couriers and messengers (+9,000).
      In July, manufacturing employment increased by 26,000, 
after increases of 357,000 in June and 240,000 in May. Despite 
recent job gains, employment is down by 740,000 since February. 
In July, an employment gain in motor vehicles and parts 
(+39,000) was partially offset by losses in fabricated metals
(-11,000), machinery (-7,000), and computer and electronic 
products (-6,000).
      Employment in financial activities rose by 21,000 in July, 
with most of the gain occurring in real estate and rental and 
leasing (+15,000). Financial activities employment is 216,000 
lower than its February level. 
      In July, construction employment changed little (+20,000) 
but is 444,000 lower than in February.
      Mining continued to lose jobs in July (-7,000). The 
industry has shed 127,000 jobs since a recent peak in January 
2019, although nearly three-fourths of the decline has occurred 
since February 2020.
      Average weekly hours for all private-sector workers fell by 
0.1 hour in July. The average workweek for manufacturing rose by 
0.7 hour in July. One should continue to be cautious when 
interpreting changes in the workweek at the total private level. 
In particular, large employment changes in industries with 
shorter- or longer-than-average workweeks can complicate monthly 
comparisons of average weekly hours.
      Similarly, changes in average hourly earnings in recent 
months must be interpreted with caution. Average hourly earnings 
of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 7 
cents in July to $29.39, following large changes in recent 
      Turning to the labor market indicators from the household 
survey, the unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage point 
to 10.2 percent in July, and the number of unemployed people 
decreased by 1.4 million to 16.3 million. Both measures have 
decreased for 3 consecutive months, but remain much higher than 
in February, before the pandemic.
      As in May and June, the July decrease in unemployment was 
driven primarily by a decline among people on temporary layoff 
(-1.3 million). The number of permanent job losers, which had 
increased by 1.6 million over the prior 4 months, was 
essentially unchanged at 2.9 million in July.
      The unemployment rates fell in July for adult men (9.4 
percent), adult women (10.5 percent), teenagers (19.3 percent), 
Whites (9.2 percent), Asians (12.0 percent), and Hispanics (12.9 
percent). The rate for Blacks (14.6 percent) was little changed.
      Among the unemployed, the number of people searching for 
work for less than 5 weeks increased by 364,000 to 3.2 million 
in July. The number of unemployed people who were jobless 5 to 
14 weeks fell by 6.3 million to 5.2 million. The number of 
people who were jobless 15 to 26 weeks increased by 4.6 million 
to 6.5 million. The number of people searching for work for 27 
weeks or more was little changed at 1.5 million.
      The labor force participation rate, at 61.4 percent, was 
little changed in July, following increases in the prior 2 
months. Total employment, as measured by the household survey, 
increased by 1.4 million over the month to 143.5 million. The 
employment-population ratio rose by 0.5 percentage point to 55.1 
percent in July, following increases of 1.8 percentage points in 
June and 1.5 percentage points in May. However, the ratio 
remains 6.0 percentage points lower than in February.
      The number of people who usually work part time increased 
by 803,000 in July to 24.0 million, while the number who usually 
work full time was little changed at 119.5 million.
      In July, the number of people at work part time for 
economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time 
workers) decreased by 619,000 to 8.4 million, reflecting a 
decline in the number of people whose hours were cut due to 
slack work or business conditions. The July decline in 
involuntary part-time workers follows a decrease of 1.6 million 
in June. The number of workers affected by this type of 
underemployment in July was 4.1 million higher than its February 
      The number of people not in the labor force who currently 
want a job declined by 463,000 in July to 7.7 million. This 
measure remains 2.8 million higher than in February.
      Among those who were not in the labor force in July but 
wanted a job, 2.0 million were considered marginally attached to 
the labor force, down by 492,000 over the month. (People who are 
marginally attached to the labor force had not actively looked 
for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, 
were available for work, and had looked for a job within the 
last 12 months.) Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally 
attached who believed no jobs were available for them, numbered 
665,000 in July, essentially unchanged over the month.
      As has been the case since March, household survey 
interviewers were instructed in July to classify employed 
persons absent from work due to temporary, coronavirus-related 
business closures or cutbacks as unemployed on temporary layoff. 
BLS and Census Bureau analyses of the underlying data suggest 
that this group still may include some workers affected by the 
pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on 
temporary layoff. However, the share of responses that may have 
been misclassified was much smaller in June and July than in 
prior months.
      For March through June, BLS published an estimate of what 
the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified workers 
been included. Repeating this same approach, the overall July 
unemployment rate would have been about 1 percentage point 
higher than reported. However, this represents the upper bound 
of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the 
size of the misclassification error. BLS continues to conduct 
research on this issue. Additional information is available 
online at
      Summarizing the labor market developments in July, nonfarm 
payroll employment increased by 1.8 million, and the 
unemployment rate declined to 10.2 percent.

Last Modified Date: September 23, 2020