October 6, 2017

September 2017 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 4.2 percent

Jobs Lost: 33,000

Employment and Unemployment

  1. The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent for September, down 0.2 percent from last month. Today’s report shows the lowest unemployment rate (4.2 percent) since February 2001.

  2. Today’s jobs report shows a loss of 33,000 nonfarm jobs in September, lower than analysts’ prediction of job growth of 80,000. Employment for July was revised down from 189,000 to 138,000, and August was revised up from 156,000 to 169,000 jobs created.

  3. Analysis of today’s report suggests that the net effect of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma was to reduce the estimate of total nonfarm payroll employment for September. However, there was no discernible effect on the national unemployment rate.

  4. In a separate report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that “about 11.2 million workers were employed … in the FEMA-designated disaster counties following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, representing about 7.7 percent of national employment.”

  5. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, “any negative effects from the hurricanes are likely to be temporary, and later offset by positive effects. For example, many businesses had to close during the storms, leading to lower output, more layoffs, and delays in hiring. But such losses are often made up after storms.” 

  6. Unemployment in September among those ages 16-19 was 12.9 percent, down 0.7 percent from last month. For people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, down from 5.2 percent in August. For African-Americans, the unemployment rate was 7.0 percent, down from 7.7 percent in August.

  7. The number of long-term unemployed, those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was 1.7 million, unchanged from last month. They account for 25.5 percent of the unemployed, up from 24.7 percent in the prior month.

  8. The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 8.3 percent, down 0.3 percent from last month. The U-6 figure represents the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers. 

  9. The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 13.5 million. These are people who are unemployed (6.8 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (1.6 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full-time employment (5.1 million).  

  10. In September, employment grew by 23,000 in health care; 22,000 in transportation and warehousing; 13,000 in professional and business services; and 10,000 in financial services. Government gained 7,000 jobs last month, largely at the local level. Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 111,000 last month, which includes employment in food services and drinking places falling by 105,000, largely attributed to the recent hurricanes.

  11. Following its most recent meeting in September, the Federal Reserve issued a statement saying: “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising moderately so far this year. Job gains have remained solid in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low … The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.” 

  12. At its September meeting, the Federal Reserve voted to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1 to 1.25 percent, following a rate increase at its June meeting.

  13. The Federal Reserve next meets October 31-November 1.        

Labor Force Participation

  1.  The labor force participation rate is 63.1 percent, up from 62.9 percent last month and remaining near its lowest level in 38 years.

  2. The labor force participation rate remains concerning as many workers stay on the sidelines. Since October 2013, the participation rate has largely been stuck in a narrow range of 62.5 to 63 percent. Prior to the recession, the rate was 66 percent.

  3. The share of American adults with jobs in September was 60.4 percent, up 0.3 percentage points from last month. This is nearly 4 percentage points below its pre-recession peak.  


        1. In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 12 cents to $26.55. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.9 percent.

        Issue Tag: Labor