U.S. labor report: Payrolls up, jobless rate down

Payrolls increased and the jobless rate decreased in September as labor conditions continued to improve in the United States in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonfarm payrolls grew 661,000 even as the unemployment rate fell a half point to 7.9 percent, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Initial estimates for payroll gains were revised upward a total of 145,000 for August and July.

Still, nonfarm employment remains 10.7 million below February and the onset of the pandemic in the U.S.

For September, the number of people counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work fell 1 million to 12.6 million. The number of those on temporary layoffs declined 1.5 million to 4.6 million.

Another 6.3 million were counted among those working part time because their hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate declined three-tenths of a percent to 61.4 percent. That’s two points lower than February.

Payroll gains in September were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 318,000 in leisure and hospitality, 142,000 in retail trades, 108,000 in health care and 89,000 in business and professional services.

Payrolls rose 74,000 in transportation and warehousing, 66,000 in manufacturing, 37,000 in financial activities and 26,000 in construction.

Government employment decreased 216,000 with declines in state and local education.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose a tenth of an hour to 34.7 hours. The manufacturing workweek rose two-tenths of an hour to 40.2 hours.

Average hourly wages on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 2 cents to $29.47.