U.S. unemployment rate declines to 4.2% for September 2017

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Summary earlier today which highlighted the unemployment rate fell to 4.2% for September. Total nonfarm payroll employment reflected a decline of 33,000. The passing of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey resulted in a sharp decline in employment in food services and drinking places and “below-trend growth in some other industries” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Household Survey Data  

Both the unemployment rate and number of unemployed person fell year over year as the unemployment rate fell 0.2% to 4.2% in September, while a decline of 331,000 was observed in the number of unemployed persons to 6.8 million persons. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.3% age point to 60.4% in September and has increased by 0.6% age point over the past 12 months. The labor force participation rate, at 63.1%, changed little over the month and has shown little movement over the year.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.1 million in September. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment was little changed in September (-33,000), after adding an average of 172,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. Employment in food services and drinking places fell in September (-105,000), as many workers were off payrolls due to the recent hurricanes according to the Bureau. Health care added approximately 23,000 jobs, in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months (+27,000). The employment increase in ambulatory health care services (+25,000) was partly offset by a fall in nursing care facilities of 9,000.

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 22,000 in September. Job gains occurred in warehousing and storage (+5,000), couriers and messengers (+4,000), and air transportation (+3,000).

Employment in financial activities changed little in September (+10,000).  Job gain in insurance carriers and related activities (+11,000) largely mirrored hurricane-recovery efforts. The gain was partly offset by losses in activities related to credit intermediation (-4,000) and in commercial banking (-3,000). Over the year, financial activities have added 149,000 jobs.

In September, employment in professional and business services was little changed (+13,000), while manufacturing employment was essentially unchanged in September (-1,000).

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade,  information, and government, showed little change over the month.