On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the U.S. unemployment rate declined 0.5 percentage points to 7.9 percent in September while total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000. The number of unemployed individuals—down 1 million to 12.6 million in September—continued to decline for the fifth consecutive month. Still, 6.8 million more people were unemployed last month versus in February. BLS attributed these improvements to “the continued resumption of economic activity” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of furloughed employees also declined in September by 1.5 million to 4.6 million—down from April’s high of 18.1 million but still 3.8 million higher than in February. However, permanent job loss increased by 345,000 to 3.8 million—up 2.5 million since February. The number of people who voluntarily left their job to find a new one increased by 212,000 to 801,000 last month.
Employment in leisure and hospitality rose by 318,000 jobs last month, with almost two-thirds of that gain concentrated in food services and drinking places. The accommodation sector added 51,000 jobs in September.