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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) December 4, 2020.

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                      Friday, December 4, 2020

      Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 245,000 in 
November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7 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. However, the pace of 
improvement in the labor market has moderated in recent months.
      In November, private nonfarm employment rose by 344,000, 
while employment in government declined by 99,000. In the 
private sector, notable employment gains occurred in 
transportation and warehousing, professional and business 
services, and health care, while retail trade lost jobs.
      The November increase in nonfarm payroll employment marked 
the 7th consecutive month of job gains, although the magnitude 
was considerably lower than in the prior 6 months. Employment is 
down by 9.8 million (or 6.5 percent) since February, before the 
onset of the pandemic in the United States.
      Although the unemployment rate edged down in November, the 
jobless rate and the number of unemployed people are up by 3.2 
percentage points and 4.9 million, respectively, since February.
      The response rate for the establishment survey was about 
average in November. 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 
November Employment Situation news release and accompanying 
materials (available on the BLS website at  
      Taking a closer look at the November payroll data, 
employment in transportation and warehousing grew by 145,000, 
representing nearly three-fifths of the over-the-month growth in 
total nonfarm employment. Within transportation and warehousing, 
employment rose over the month in couriers and messengers 
(+82,000), warehousing and storage (+37,000), and truck 
transportation (+13,000). Transportation and warehousing lost 
595,000 jobs in March, April, and May combined. Since May, the 
industry has regained 472,000, or nearly 80 percent, of the jobs 
lost in the early months of the pandemic.
      In November, professional and business services added 
60,000 jobs, with about half the gain occurring in temporary 
help services (+32,000). Services to buildings and dwellings 
added 14,000 jobs. Since February, employment in professional 
and business services is down by 1.1 million.
      Employment in health care increased by 46,000 in November 
but is down by 527,000 since February. Over the month, job gains 
occurred in offices of physicians (+21,000), home health care 
services (+13,000), and offices of other health practitioners 
(+8,000). Employment in nursing care facilities declined by 
12,000 in November and by 147,000 since February.
      Construction employment increased by 27,000 in November. 
Job gains occurred in residential specialty trade contractors 
(+14,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction 
(+10,000). Since February, construction employment is down by 
      Manufacturing employment grew by 27,000 in November but is 
down by 599,000 since February. Over the month, employment 
increased in motor vehicles and parts (+15,000), plastics and 
rubber products (+5,000), and furniture and related products 
      In November, employment in financial activities rose by 
15,000, with gains in real estate (+10,000) and nondepository 
credit intermediation (+8,000).
      Employment in wholesale trade continued to trend up in 
November (+10,000), driven by job growth in its durable goods 
component (+14,000). 
      Employment in government declined by 99,000 in November. 
Federal government employment was down by 86,000, reflecting a 
loss of 93,000 temporary workers who had been hired for the 2020 
Census. Employment in local government education continued to 
trend down (-21,000).
      Retail trade lost 35,000 jobs in November, and employment 
in the industry is down by 550,000 since February. In November, 
job losses occurred in general merchandise stores (-21,000); 
sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-12,000); 
electronics and appliance stores (-11,000); and health and 
personal care stores (-8,000). These job losses were partially 
offset by small gains in furniture and home furnishings stores 
(+6,000) and automobile dealers (+4,000).
      Employment in leisure and hospitality changed little in 
November (+31,000). Within the industry, employment in food 
services and drinking places changed little over the month 
(-17,000) and is down by 2.1 million since February. Employment
in arts, entertainment, and recreation increased by 43,000 in 
      Employment in other major industries--including mining, 
information, and other services--showed little change over the 
      Average weekly hours for all private-sector workers were 
unchanged in November at 34.8 hours. The average workweek for 
manufacturing decreased by 0.2 hour to 40.3 hours. 
      Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls increased by 9 cents in November to $29.58.  
      Turning to the labor market indicators from the household 
survey, the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7 percent in 
November. The number of unemployed people, at 10.7 million, 
continued to trend down. Although considerably lower than the 
recent peaks in April of this year, both measures are nearly 
twice their pre-pandemic levels in February.
      The number of unemployed people on temporary layoff 
decreased by 441,000 to 2.8 million in November. The number of 
permanent job losers, at 3.7 million, was little changed over 
the month. The number of people who became unemployed after 
completing temporary jobs increased by 155,000 to 978,000 in 
      The unemployment rate declined in November for adult women 
(6.1 percent). The rates for adult men (6.7 percent), teenagers 
(14.0 percent), Whites (5.9 percent), Blacks (10.3 percent), 
Asians (6.7 percent), and Hispanics (8.4 percent) showed little 
or no change over the month.
      Among the unemployed, the number of people searching for 
work for 27 weeks or more (often referred to as the long-term 
unemployed) increased by 385,000 in November to 3.9 million. 
These long-term unemployed accounted for 36.9 percent of the 
unemployed. The number of people who were jobless 15 to 26 weeks 
decreased by 760,000 to 1.9 million. The number of people who 
were unemployed for 5 to 14 weeks and people unemployed for less 
than 5 weeks were little changed, at 2.4 million and 2.5 
million, respectively.
      The labor force participation rate edged down to 61.5 
percent in November and is 1.9 percentage points lower than in 
February. The employment-population ratio, at 57.3 percent, 
changed little in November; the rate is 3.8 percentage points 
lower than in February.
      In November, the number of people who usually work full 
time increased by 752,000 to 124.3 million, and the number who 
usually work part time decreased by 779,000 to 25.4 million.
      The number of people at work part time for economic reasons 
in November was little changed at 6.7 million. (This group 
includes people who usually work full time and people who 
usually work part time.) The number of people affected by this 
type of underemployment was 4.2 million lower than a recent peak 
in April 2020 but 2.3 million higher than in February.
      The number of people not in the labor force who currently 
want a job increased by 448,000 in November to 7.1 million, 
following a decline of 539,000 in October. This measure is 2.2 
million higher than in February.
      Among those who were not in the labor force but wanted a 
job, 2.1 million were considered marginally attached to the 
labor force in November, little changed from October. (People 
who are marginally attached to the labor force had not actively 
looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but 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 657,000 in 
November, also changed little over the month.
      Since March, household survey interviewers have been 
instructed to classify employed people absent from work due to 
temporary, coronavirus-related business closures or cutbacks as 
unemployed on temporary layoff.
      As occurred in previous months, some workers affected by 
the pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on 
temporary layoff in November were instead misclassified as 
employed but not at work. However, the share of responses that 
may have been misclassified was considerably smaller in recent 
months than at the onset of the pandemic.
      For March through October, 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 November unemployment rate would have been 
0.4 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 on the BLS website at
      Looking at supplemental pandemic-related measures from the 
household survey (these supplemental data are not seasonally 
adjusted), 21.8 percent of employed people teleworked in 
November because of the coronavirus pandemic, up from 21.2 
percent in October. 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 November, 14.8 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 measure was little changed from the prior 
month. Among those who reported in November that they were 
unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost 
business, 13.7 percent received at least some pay from their 
employer for the hours not worked, up 2.0 percentage points from 
      About 3.9 million people not in the labor force in November 
were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, up 
from 3.6 million in October. (To be counted as unemployed, by 
definition, individuals must either be actively searching for 
work or on temporary layoff.)
      In summary, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 
245,000 in November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7 

Last Modified Date: December 04, 2020