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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) November 6, 2020.

                           Statement of

                         William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                      Friday, November 6, 2020

      Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 638,000 in 
October, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.9 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 October, private nonfarm employment rose by 906,000. 
Employment rose in several private-sector industries, with the 
largest gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and 
business services, retail trade, and construction. By contrast, 
employment in government declined by 268,000.
      Total nonfarm payroll employment has increased for 6 
consecutive months but is down by 10.1 million (or 6.6 percent) 
since February, before the onset of the pandemic in the United 
      Although unemployment fell for the sixth month in a row in 
October, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed 
people are up by 3.4 percentage points and 5.3 million, 
respectively, since February.
      The response rate for the establishment survey was above 
average for October. The rate for the household survey, while 
slightly below normal due to pandemic-related issues, was much 
higher than earlier in the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic 
on the household and establishment surveys is detailed in the 
October Employment Situation news release and accompanying 
materials (see
For both surveys, we were able to obtain estimates that meet BLS 
standards for accuracy and reliability.
      Taking a closer look at the October payroll data, 
employment in leisure and hospitality grew by 271,000, 
accounting for about two-fifths of the over-the-month growth in 
total nonfarm employment. While leisure and hospitality has 
added 4.8 million jobs since April, employment is 3.5 million 
lower than in February. Within the industry, employment rose 
over the month in food services and drinking places (+192,000); 
arts, entertainment, and recreation (+44,000); and accommodation 
      Employment in professional and business services increased 
by 208,000 in October, with about half of the gain occurring in 
temporary help services (+109,000). Other notable job gains 
occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+19,000), 
computer systems design (+16,000), management and technical 
consulting (+15,000), and investigation and security services 
(+12,000). Overall, employment in professional and business 
services is 1.1 million below its February level.
      In October, retail trade added 104,000 jobs. Within the 
industry, job gains occurred in electronics and appliance stores 
(+31,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+23,000), furniture 
and home furnishings stores (+14,000), clothing and accessories 
stores (+13,000), general merchandise stores (+10,000), and 
nonstore retailers (+9,000). Since February, retail trade 
employment is down by 499,000.
      Construction employment increased by 84,000 in October, but 
is down by 294,000 since February. About half of the October 
gain occurred in specialty trade contractors, with increases in 
both the nonresidential (+28,000) and residential (+18,000) 
components. Elsewhere in the industry, heavy and civil 
engineering construction (+19,000) and construction of buildings 
(+19,000) also added jobs.
      In October, employment increased by 79,000 in health care 
and social assistance. Health care employment increased by 
58,000, with the largest gains in hospitals (+16,000), offices 
of physicians (+14,000), offices of dentists (+11,000), and 
outpatient care centers (+10,000). Nursing and residential care 
facilities lost 9,000 jobs over the month, and employment has 
declined by 238,000 since February. Social assistance added 
21,000 jobs over the month.
      In October, employment in transportation and warehousing 
rose by 63,000, with the largest gains occurring in warehousing 
and storage (+28,000), transit and ground passenger 
transportation (+25,000), and truck transportation (+10,000). 
These gains were partially offset by job losses in air 
transportation (-18,000). Overall, employment in transportation 
and warehousing is down by 271,000 since February.
      Employment in other services increased by 47,000 in 
October, with gains in personal and laundry services (+27,000) 
and repair and maintenance (+18,000). Since February, employment 
in other services is down by 436,000.
      Manufacturing added 38,000 jobs in October, with gains 
about evenly split between durable goods (+21,000) and 
nondurable goods (+17,000). Manufacturing employment is down by 
621,000 since February.
      Employment in financial activities increased by 31,000 in 
October. Over the month, job gains occurred in finance and 
insurance (+17,000) and in real estate (+10,000). Since 
February, financial activities employment is down by 129,000. 
      In October, employment in government declined by 268,000. 
Federal government employment was down by 138,000, reflecting a 
loss of 147,000 temporary workers who had been hired for the 
2020 Census. State and local government each lost 65,000 jobs, 
driven by employment declines in their education components.
      Employment in other major industries--including mining, 
wholesale trade, and information--showed little change over the 
      Average weekly hours for all private-sector workers were 
unchanged in October at 34.8 hours. The average workweek for 
manufacturing rose by 0.3 hour in October to 40.5 hours. 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 earnings in recent months 
must be interpreted with caution. Average hourly earnings of all 
employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents in 
October to $29.50.
      Turning to the labor market indicators from the household 
survey, the unemployment rate declined by 1.0 percentage point 
to 6.9 percent in October, and the number of unemployed people 
fell by 1.5 million to 11.1 million. Both measures have 
decreased for 6 consecutive months but are nearly twice their 
February levels.
      The unemployment decrease in October was driven by a 
decline of 1.4 million among people on temporary layoff. The 
number of permanent job losers was about unchanged at 3.7 
million in October but is up by 2.4 million since February.
      Unemployment rates fell in October for adult men (6.7 
percent), adult women (6.5 percent), teenagers (13.9 percent), 
Whites (6.0 percent), Blacks (10.8 percent), Asians (7.6 
percent), and Hispanics (8.8 percent).
      Among the unemployed, the number of people searching for 
work for 27 weeks or more (often referred to as the long-term 
unemployed) rose by 1.2 million in October to 3.6 million. The 
number of people who were jobless 15 to 26 weeks fell by 2.3 
million to 2.6 million. The number of people who were unemployed 
for 5 to 14 weeks declined by 457,000 to 2.3 million. The number 
of people searching for work for less than 5 weeks was 2.5 
million, little changed over the month.
      The labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 
percentage point to 61.7 percent in October but is 1.7 
percentage points lower than in February. The employment-
population ratio increased by 0.8 percentage point to 57.4 
percent in October; the rate is 3.7 percentage points lower than 
in February.
      In October, the number of people who usually work full time 
increased by 1.2 million to 123.6 million, and the number who 
usually work part time increased by 1.0 million to 26.2 million.
      In October, the number of people at work part time for 
economic reasons increased by 383,000 to 6.7 million, reflecting 
an increase in the number of people whose hours were cut due to 
slack work or business conditions. (This group includes people 
who usually work full time and people who usually work part 
time.) The October increase in the number of people at work part 
time for economic reasons follows declines totaling 4.6 million 
over the prior 5 months. The number of workers affected by this 
type of underemployment was 2.4 million higher than its February 
      The number of people not in the labor force who currently 
want a job decreased by 539,000 in October to 6.7 million. This 
measure is 1.7 million higher than in February.
      Among those who were not in the labor force but wanted a 
job, 2.0 million were considered marginally attached to the 
labor force in October, about unchanged 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.) The number of discouraged workers, a subset 
of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were 
available for them, at 588,000 in October, was essentially 
unchanged over the month.
      As has been the case since March, household survey 
interviewers were instructed in October to classify employed 
people 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 there still may be 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 considerably smaller in recent months.
      For March through September, BLS published an estimate of 
what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified 
workers been included among the unemployed. Repeating this same 
approach, the overall October unemployment rate would have been 
0.3 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. 
Additional information is available online at
      Looking at the supplemental pandemic-related measures from 
the household survey (these supplemental data are not seasonally 
adjusted), 21.2 percent of employed people teleworked in October 
because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 22.7 percent in 
September. These data refer to employed people who teleworked or 
worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks 
specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic.
      In October, 15.1 million people 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 last 4 weeks due to the 
pandemic. This is down from 19.4 million people in September. 
Among those who reported in October that they were unable to 
work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 11.7 
percent received at least some pay from their employer for the 
hours not worked, up from 10.3 percent in September.
      About 3.6 million people not in the labor force in October 
were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic. This 
is down from 4.5 million people in September. (To be counted as 
unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be actively 
looking for work or on temporary layoff.)
      In summary, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 
638,000 in October, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.9 

Last Modified Date: November 06, 2020