BLS Analysis for Recruiters December 2020

Bob Marshall’s December 2020 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 1/8/21

December BLS Preface

TBMG Coaching Updates and Product News:


In the opinion of ex-Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry who coached from 1960-1988, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

Is now the time to pick a Coach?

I realize that taking that first step to engage a Coach to help you reach a higher level of production is not as easy as it sounds.  After all, your training investment – and your time – are important and deserve every consideration.  I share your feelings.  I believe that how you approach your recruitment career matters…that you should get what you pay for, and then some…that you should enjoy your time with your Coach as you are benefiting from it…and that you should never settle for the ordinary.

So, for those of you who have been toying with the idea of working with a recruitment coach, now may be the time.  Only you can come to that decision point.

“Teachers open the door; but you must enter by yourself”—Chinese Proverb

When considering ‘individual change management’, consider this theosophical proverb: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear!”

“Bob Marshall is a speaker’s speaker and a trainer’s trainer.  He has a gift for taking the cornerstones of the business and compelling people and teams to not only hone their skills but to execute. We’ve had Bob engage our teams a number of times over the last few years and our groups always come away more focused on the core and more energized to perform. Come ready to learn because this man knows the business and will make you better!”

—David Alexander, President, Soliant, January 2017


Many of you continue to correspond with me about these monthly BLS analyses and have asked if it is OK to use them in your presentations.  The answer is, of course, yes!  That is why I spend the time to assemble this information.  I would encourage any of you who have that desire to weave any of the information I have printed below into your presentations.  I write these analyses for the benefit of our recruitment industry in general and for the members of my distribution list in particular.  So, use this info as you deem appropriate.

I also write these monthly BLS analyses to not only counterbalance the negative/incorrect press reporting of our general economic state but, more than that, to remind all of my recruitment readers that, at the level we work, there is no unemployment and so we must recruit to find the candidates our client companies so desperately need!

So, to my recruiter colleagues, get out there and do what your name implies…RECRUIT!  When your client companies have unique and difficult positions to fill, they need you.  When they are being picky, they need you.  When they are longing for more production from fewer employees, they need you.  Go fill those needs.  These should be the halcyon days in the recruitment arena!

Finally, always remember that we are not in an HR business, but in a ‘circumventing the time factor in the hiring sequence’ business—and adding value to our client companies.

Two-Thirds of US Companies to Offer Year-End Bonuses, with 45% Planning Increases

Daily News, December 17, 2020

Two-thirds of senior managers at US companies, 67%, report their company plans to offer year-end bonuses, according to a survey released by global staffing firm Robert Half International.

Of those respondents, 45% expect to give bigger bonuses than last year, while 46% foresee amounts staying the same.

In a separate survey of workers, 54% said they expect a bonus this year.

Among the 28 US cities included in the survey, Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina and Atlanta have the largest number of organizations planning to award year-end bonuses.  Seattle, Atlanta and Indianapolis have the most managers who said their companies plan to increase bonuses this year.

“Organizations that pulled through 2020 know they couldn’t have done it without the hard work and dedication of their staff,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half.  “Personal recognition paired with a financial reward can go a long way to spreading gratitude during the holidays and retaining top performers in the future.”

The research also found that more than half of senior managers surveyed, 57%, said their company suspended salary increases as a result of the pandemic.  However, of those, 27% anticipate reinstating them by year-end, and another 43% expect to do so during the first half of 2021.

“Many companies had to implement cost-cutting measures when the pandemic hit, including salary freezes,” McDonald said.  “While employers continue to keep a close eye on their budget, it’s encouraging to see bonuses and raises as we head into the new year.”

The online surveys, conducted from July 7 to Dec. 16, included responses from nearly 2,800 senior managers and 2,800 workers at companies in 28 major US cities with 20 or more employees.

Get ready for another roaring ’20s, UCLA economic forecast predicts

LA Times, Margot Roosevelt, December 9, 2020

You may be shut inside your home.  You may be out working a job but in fear of contracting the coronavirus.  You may be mourning the demise of your neighborhood’s small businesses.  You may be unemployed and unable to pay your rent.

And for the next few months, the situation may grow even worse.

But then get ready for the roaring ’20s.

UCLA economists issued an optimistic forecast Wednesday, predicting the U.S. economy will experience “a gloomy COVID winter and an exuberant vaccine spring,” followed by robust growth for some years.

“The ’20s will be roaring, but with several months of hardship first,” according to the quarterly ‘UCLA Andersen forecast’.  “These next few months will be dire, with rising COVID infections, continued social distancing, and the expiration of social assistance programs.”

The forecast, which assumes mass vaccination of Americans will take place by summer, predicts that annualized growth in the nation’s gross domestic product will accelerate from a weak 1.2% in the current quarter to 1.8% in the first quarter of next year, then to a booming 6% in next year’s second quarter and consistent 3% growth each quarter thereafter into 2023.

“With a vaccine and the release of pent-up demand, the next few years will be roaring as the economy accelerates and returns to previous growth trends,” wrote Leo Feler, a senior economist with the forecast.  “We expect a surge in services consumption and continued strength in housing markets to propel the economy forward.”

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Only Medium-Sized Business had positive employment growth (+37,000) last month!

January 6, 2021

Private sector employment decreased by <-123,000> jobs from November to December according to the December ADP National Employment Report.  Broadly distributed to the public each month, free of charge, the ADP NER is produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics.  The report, which is derived from ADP’s actual payroll data, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The matched sample used to develop the ADP National Employment Report® was derived from ADP payroll data, which represents 460,000 U.S. clients employing nearly 26,000,000 workers in the U.S.  The November total of jobs added was revised down from 307,000 to 304,000.

Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment:             <-123,000>

By Company Size

Small businesses:                    <-13,000>

1-19 employees                        <-16,000>

20-49 employees                            3,000

Medium businesses:                   37,000

50-499 employees                        37,000

Large businesses:                 <-147,000>

500-999 employees                       22,000

1,000+ employees                   <-169,000>

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                       <-18,000>

A.  Natural resources/mining                                                              0

B.  Construction                                                                            3,000

C.  Manufacturing                                                                   <-21,000>

II.  Service-providing:                                    <-105,000>

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                                              <-50,000>

B.  Information                                                                          <-6,000>

C.  Financial activities                                                                               2,000

D.  Professional/business services                                               12,000

                        1.  Professional/technical services                                     5,000

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                               0

                        3.  Administrative/support services                                   7,000

            E.  Education/health services                                                         8,000

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                         9,000

                        2.  Education                                                                  <-1,000>

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                                              <-58,000>

            G.  Other services                                                                     <-12,000>

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                                    <-5,300>

“As the impact of the pandemic on the labor market intensifies, December posted the first decline since April 2020,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.  “The job losses were primarily concentrated in retail and leisure and hospitality.”

(The January 2021 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on February 3, 2021.)

Due to the important contribution that small businesses make to economic growth, employment data that is specific to businesses with 49 or fewer employees is reported each month in the ADP Small Business Report®, a subset of the ADP National Employment Report.

December 2020 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             <-13,000>

●By Size  
►1-19 employees <-16,000>
►20-49 employees 3,000
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-19,000>
►Service Producing 6,000
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-18,000>
►Service Producing 2,000
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-1,000>
►Service Producing 4,000

Bottom-line:  To my audience of recruiters, always remember this:  Our ‘bread and butter’, especially on the contingency side of the house, has historically been, and continues to be, small and medium-sized client companies.  Along with the large companies, these companies need to be in included in your niche!

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary – October 2020

December 9, 2020  

The number of job openings was little changed at 6,700,000 on the last business day of October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Hires were little changed at 5,800,000 while total separations increased to 5,100,000.  Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2% while the layoffs and discharges rate increased to 1.2%.  This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, and by 4 geographic regions.

Job Openings

On the last business day of October, the number and rate of job openings were little changed at 6,700,000 and 4.5%, respectively.  Job openings increased in health care and social assistance (+122,000) and state and local government education (+23,000).  The number of job openings was little changed in all 4 regions.

The number of job openings in October (not seasonally adjusted) decreased over the year to 7,100,000 (-596,000) reflecting the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market.  Job openings decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in retail trade, accommodation and food services, and finance and insurance.  Only nondurable goods manufacturing and durable goods manufacturing had increases in job openings.  The number of job openings decreased in the Midwest region.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on October 2020 JOLTS Data

Data collection for the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.



In October, the number and rate of hires were little changed at 5,800,000 and 4.1%, respectively.  Hires decreased in wholesale trade (-81,000), other services (-74,000), and federal government (-12,000).  The number of hires was little changed in all 4 regions.

The number of hires in October (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the year.  Hires increased in a number of industries over the year, with the largest increases in transportation, warehousing, and utilities and in durable goods manufacturing.  Hires decreased in construction and state and local government education.  The number of hires was little changed in all 4 regions.


Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations.  Total separations is referred to as turnover.  Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee.  Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.  Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer.  Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

In October, the number of total separations increased to 5,100,000 (+263,000).  The total separations rate was little changed at 3.6%.  The total separations level increased in federal government (+109,000), largely the result of separations of temporary 2020 Census workers.  Total separations increased in the Northeast region.

Over the year, the number of total separations (not seasonally adjusted) decreased to 5,300,000 (-408,000).  Total separations decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services and construction.  Total separations increased in federal government and nondurable goods manufacturing.  The number of total separations decreased in the West region.

In October, the number of quits was little changed at 3,100,000 and the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2%.  Quits increased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+17,000) and federal government (+7,000).  The number of quits was little changed in all 4regions.

Over the year, the number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) decreased to 3,300,000

(-261,000).  Quits declined in several industries, with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services and other services.  The quits level increased in a number of industries with the largest increases in retail trade and wholesale trade.  Over the year, the number of quits decreased in the Midwest and West regions.

The number and rate of layoffs and discharges increased to 1,700,000 (+243,000) and 1.2%, respectively in October.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in federal government (+91,000), largely due to the release of temporary 2020 Census workers.  Layoffs and discharges increased in the Northeast region.

Over the year, the layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed.  Layoffs and discharges decreased in arts, entertainment, and recreation and in wholesale trade.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in federal government.  The number of layoffs and discharges decreased over the year in the West region.

The number of other separations was little changed in October at 336,000.  Other separations increased in federal government (+10,000).  Other separations were little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the other separations level (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed at 321,000.  Other separations decreased in a number of industries with the largest decrease in information.  Other separations increased in federal government. The number of other separations was little changed in all 4 regions.

Net Change in Employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle.  Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations.  When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.  Conversely, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising.

Over the 12 months ending in October, hires totaled 70,400,000 and separations totaled 76,100,000, yielding a net employment loss of 5,700,000.  These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.


The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey estimates for November 2020 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (ET).


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on October 2020

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Data


Data collection for the JOLTS survey was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  While 42% of data are usually collected by phone at the JOLTS data collection center, most phone respondents were asked to report electronically.  However, data collection was adversely impacted due to the inability to reach some respondents that normally respond by phone.  The JOLTS response rate for October was 45%, while response rates prior to the pandemic averaged 54%.


BLS modified the JOLTS estimation methods in March through October to better reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  The estimation process usually includes an alignment of monthly hires minus separations to the over-the-month change in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) employment estimates.  For October estimates, as in earlier months, BLS suspended the alignment process.  The differing reference periods for the CES employment estimates (pay period including the 12th of the month) and the JOLTS hires and separations estimates (the entire reference month) led to different measurement outcomes. ______________________________________________________________________

As we recruiters know, that 6,700,000 number only represents 20% of the jobs currently available in the marketplace.  The other 80% of job openings are unpublished and are filled through networking or word of mouth or by using a RECRUITER.   So, those 6,700,000 published job openings now become a total of 33,500,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Falls in November

December 9, 2020

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index fell in November and now stands at 102.5 (July 2018=100), down from 103.8 in October.  The Index rose 3.3% from September to October and is up 0.8% from a year ago.

The Help Wanted OnLine® Index is produced in collaboration with Burning Glass Technologies, the global pioneer in real-time labor market data and analysis.  This recent collaboration enhances the Help Wanted OnLine® program by providing additional insights into important labor market trends.   


Prior to 2020, The Conference Board constructed the HWOL Index based solely on online job ads over time.  Using a methodology designed to reduce non-economic volatility contributed by online job sources, the HWOL Index served an effective measure of changes in labor demand over time.

Beginning January 2020, the HWOL Index was refined as an estimate of change in job openings (based on BLS JOLTS), using a series of econometric models which incorporate job ads with other macroeconomic indicators such as employment and aggregate hours worked. By adopting a modeled approach which combines other data sources with data on online job ads, the HWOL Index more accurately tracks important movements in the labor market.

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index measures changes over time in advertised online job vacancies, reflecting monthly trends in employment opportunities across the US.  The HWOL Data Series aggregates the total number of ads available by month from the HWOL universe of online job ads.  Ads in the HWOL universe are collected in real-time from over 50,000 online job domains including traditional job boards, corporate boards, social media sites, and smaller job sites that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas.

Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which was published for over 55 years and discontinued in July 2008), Help Wanted OnLine® measures help wanted advertising, i.e. labor demand.  The HWOL Data Series began in May 2005 and was revised in December 2018.  With the December 2018 revision, The Conference Board released the HWOL Index, improving upon the HWOL Data Series’ ability to assess local labor market trends by reducing volatility and non-economic noise and improving correlation with local labor market conditions.

In 2019, the Help Wanted OnLine® program partnered with Burning Glass Technologies, Inc., the new sole provider of online job ad data for HWOL  With the partnership, the HWOL Data Series has been revised historically to reflect a new universe and methodology of online job advertisements and therefore cannot be used in conjunction with the pre-revised HWOL Data Series.  The HWOL Data Series begins in January 2015 and the HWOL Index begins in December 2005.  HWOL Index values prior to 2020 are based on job ads collected by CEB, Inc.

Those using this data are urged to review the information on the database and methodology available on The Conference Board website and contact us with questions and comments.

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead.  Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

About Burning Glass Technologies, Inc.

Burning Glass Technologies delivers job market analytics that empower employers, workers, and educators to make data-driven decisions.  Powered by the world’s largest and most sophisticated database of labor market data and talent, Burning Glass Technologies analyzes hundreds of millions of job postings and real-life career transitions to provide insight into labor market patterns.  Users of our products include corporate human resources departments, market analysts and employment services firms as well as the federal, state and local labor market analysts that use HWOL.

The next release for December 2020 is Wednesday, January 13 at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In December 2020, the regular unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7% and the broader U-6 measure fell 0.3% to 11.7%.  Both of these percentages are still almost totally due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown across the U.S and the slow ‘Reopening’.

The above 11.7% is referred to as the U-6 unemployment rate (found in the monthly BLS Employment Situation Summary, Table A-15; Table A-12 in 2008 and before).  It counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.”  Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week.  And the “marginally attached workers” include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work.  The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over.

Here is a look at the December U-6 numbers for the previous 18 years:

December 2019                       6.7%

December 2018                       7.6%

December 2017                       8.1%

December 2016                       9.1%

December 2015                       9.9%

December 2014                       11.2%

December 2013                       13.1%

December 2012                       14.4%

December 2011                       15.2%

December 2010                       16.6%

December 2009                       17.2%

December 2008                       13.7%

December 2007                       8.7%

December 2006                       7.9%

December 2005                       8.6%

December 2004                       9.3%

December 2003                       9.9%

December 2002                       9.9%

The December 2020 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 140,000 in December.  The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and efforts to contain the pandemic.  In December, job losses in leisure and hospitality and in private education were partially offset by gains in professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised up by 44,000, from +610,000 to +654,000, and the change for November was revised up by 91,000, from +245,000 to +336,000.  With these revisions, employment in October and November combined was 135,000 more than previously reported.  (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)

The unemployment rate is also published by the BLS.  That rate is found by dividing the number of unemployed by the total civilian labor force.  On January 8th, 2021, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for December 2020 of 6.7% (actually, it is 6.686% down by 0.004% from 6.690% in November.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 10,736,000

(–down from the month before by 8,000—since December 2019, this number has increased by 4,892,000) by the total civilian labor force of 160,567,000 (up by 31,000 from November 2020).  Since December 2019, our total civilian labor force has decreased by 4,012,000 workers.

(The continuing ‘Strange BLS Math’ saga—after a detour in December 2016 when the BLS {for the first time in years} DECREASED the total Civilian Noninstitutional Population—this month the BLS once again increased this total to 261,230,000.  This is an increase of 145,000 from last month’s increase of 160,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,049,000. For the last 3 years the Civilian Noninstitutional Population has increased each month—except in December 2016, December 2018 & December 2019—by…)

Up from November 2020by145,000
Up from October 2020by160,000
Up from September 2020by183,000
Up from August 2020by184,000
Up from July 2020by185,000
Up from June 2020by169,000
Up from May 2020by157,000
Up from April 2020by151,000
Up from March 2020by138,000
Up from February 2020by130,000
Up from January 2020by126,000
Down from December 2019by679,000
Up from November 2019by161,000
Up from October 2019by175,000
Up from September 2019by207,000
Up from August 2019by206,000
Up from July 2019by207,000
Up from June 2019by188,000
Up from May 2019by176,000
Up from April 2019by168,000
Up from March 2019by156,000
Up from February 2019by145,000
Up from January 2019by153,000
Down from December 2018by649,000
Up from November 2018by180,000
Up from October 2018by194,000
Up from September 2018by224,000
Up from August 2018by224,000
Up from July 2018by223,000
Up from June 2018by201,000
Up from May 2018by188,000
Up from April 2018by182,000
Up from March 2018by175,000
Up from February 2018by163,000
Up from January 2018by154,000
Up from December 2017by671,000

This month the BLS has increased the Civilian Labor Force to 160,567,000 (up from November by 31,000, mainly due to the slow reopening of the economy).

Subtract the second number (‘civilian labor force’) from the first number (‘civilian noninstitutional population’) and you get 100,663,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’—up by 115,000 from last month’s 100,548,000.  In one year, this NILF population has increased by 5,061,000.  The government tells us that most of these NILFs got discouraged and just gave up looking for a job.  My monthly recurring question is: “If that is the case, how do they survive when they don’t earn any money because they don’t have a job?  Are they ALL relying on the government to support them??”

This month, our Employment Participation Rate—the population 16 years and older working or seeking work—remained at 61.5%.  This ‘reopening’ rate is 0.9% below the historically low rate of 62.4% recorded in September 2015—and, before that, the rate recorded in October 1977—9 months into Jimmy Carter’s presidency—almost 40 years ago!

Final take on these numbers:  Fewer people looking for work will always bring down the unemployment rate.

Anyway, back to the point I am trying to make.  On the surface, these new unemployment rates are scary, but let’s look a little deeper and consider some other numbers.

The unemployment rate includes all types of workers—construction workers, government workers, etc.  We recruiters, on the other hand, mainly place management, professional and related types of workers.  That unemployment rate in December was 3.4% (this rate was .3% lower than last month’s 3.7%).  Or you can look at it another way.  We usually place people who have college degrees.  That unemployment rate in December was3.8% (this rate was .4% lower than last month’s 4.2%).

Now stay with me a little longer.  This gets better.  It’s important to understand (and none of the pundits mention this) that the unemployment rate, for many reasons, will never be 0%, no matter how good the economy is.  Without boring you any more than I have already, let me add here that Milton Friedman (the renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist), is famous for the theory of the “natural rate of unemployment” (or the term he preferred, NAIRU, which is the acronym for Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment).  Basically, this theory states that full employment presupposes an ‘unavoidable and acceptable’ unemployment rate of somewhere between 4-6% with it.  Economists often settle on 5%, although the “New Normal Unemployment Rate” has been suggested to fall at 6.7%.

Nevertheless (if you will allow me to apply a ‘macro’ concept to a ‘micro’ issue), if this rate is applied to our main category of Management, Professional and Related types of potential recruits, and/or our other main category of College-Degreed potential recruits, because of the COVID-19 shutdown, we are not that far above the 4-6% threshold for full employment…and that will change as soon as we all return to work!


“The economic goal of any nation, as of any individual, is to get the greatest results with the least effort.  The whole economic progress of mankind has consisted in getting more production with the same labor…Translated into national terms, this first principle means that our real objective is to maximize production.  In doing this, full employment—that is, the absence of involuntary idleness—becomes a necessary by-product.  But production is the end, employment merely the means.  We cannot continuously have the fullest production without full employment.  But we can very easily have full employment without full production.”

–Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, Chapter X, “The Fetish of Full Employment”

On December 22nd, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 33.4% in the third quarter of 2020, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the second quarter, real GDP decreased <-31.4%>.

The “third” estimate of GDP is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued last month.  In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 33.1%.  The upward revision primarily reflected larger increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and nonresidential fixed investment.

COVID-19 Impact on the Third-Quarter 2020 GDP Estimate

The increase in third quarter GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to COVID-19.  The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the third quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

The increase in real GDP reflected increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in federal government spending (reflecting fewer fees paid to administer the Paycheck Protection Program loans) and state and local government spending.  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The increase in PCE reflected increases in services (led by health care as well as food services and accommodations) and goods (led by clothing and footwear as well as motor vehicles and parts).  The increase in private inventory investment primarily reflected an increase in retail trade (led by motor vehicle dealers).  The increase in exports primarily reflected an increase in goods (led by automotive vehicles, engines, and parts as well as capital goods).  The increase in nonresidential fixed investment primarily reflected an increase in equipment (led by transportation equipment).  The increase in residential fixed investment primarily reflected an increase in brokers’ commissions and other ownership transfer costs.

Updates to GDP

In the third estimate, the change in third-quarter real GDP was revised up 0.3% from the second estimate.  The updated estimates primarily reflected upward revisions to consumer spending and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by a downward revision to exports

Real GDP by Industry

Today’s release includes estimates of GDP by industry, or value added—a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP.  Private goods-producing industries increased 47.2%, private services-producing industries increased 35.1%, and government increased 10.1%.

Overall, 21 of 22 industry groups contributed to the third-quarter increase in real GDP.  Within private goods-producing industries, the leading contributor to the increase was durable goods manufacturing (led by motor vehicles, bodies and trailers, and parts).  Within private services-producing industries, the leading contributors to the increase were health care and social assistance (led by ambulatory health care); accommodation and food services (led by food services and drinking places); retail trade; and wholesale trade.  The increase in government reflected increases in both state and local government and federal government.  Offsetting these increases was a decrease in mining in the third quarter (led by support activities for mining).

Gross Output by Industry

Real gross output—principally a measure of an industry’s sales or receipts, which includes sales to final users in the economy (GDP) and s ales to other industries (intermediate inputs)—increased 28.7% in the third quarter. Private goods-producing industries increased 33.6%, private services-producing industries increased 32.3%, and government increased 2.0%.  Overall, 19 of 22 industry groups contributed to the increase in real gross output.  Mining, federal government, and utilities gross output decreased.

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Next release, January 28, 2021 at 8:30 A.M. EST
Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter 2020 (Advance Estimate) and Year 2020


‘Unemployment’ is an emotional ‘trigger’ word…a ‘third rail’, if you will.  It conjures up negative thoughts.  But it is important to realize that, while we want everyone who wants a job to have the opportunity to work, unemployment can never be zero and, in fact, can be disruptive to an economy if it gets too close to zero.  Very low unemployment can actually hurt the economy by creating an upward pressure on wages which invariably leads to higher production costs and prices.  This can lead to inflation.  The lowest the unemployment rate has been in the US was 2.5%.  That was in May and June 1953 when the economy overheated due to the Korean War.  When this bubble burst, it kicked off the Recession of 1953.  A healthy economy will always include some percentage of unemployment.

There are five main sources of unemployment:

1.  Cyclical (or demand-deficient) unemployment – This type of unemployment fluctuates with the business cycle.  It rises during a recession and falls during the subsequent recovery.  Workers who are most affected by this type of unemployment are laid off during a recession when production volumes fall, and companies use lay-offs as the easiest way to reduce costs.  These workers are usually rehired, some months later, when the economy improves.

2.  Frictional unemployment – This comes from the normal turnover in the labor force.  This is where new workers are entering the workforce and older workers are retiring and leaving vacancies to be filled by the new workers or those re-entering the workforce.  This category includes workers who are between jobs.

3.  Structural unemployment – This happens when the skills possessed by the unemployed worker don’t match the requirements of the opening—whether those be in characteristics and skills or in location.  This can come from new technology or foreign competition (e.g., foreign outsourcing).  This type of unemployment usually lasts longer than frictional unemployment because retraining, and sometimes relocation, is involved.  Occasionally jobs in this category can just disappear overseas.

4.  Seasonal unemployment – This happens when the workforce is affected by the climate or time of year.  Construction workers and agricultural workers aren’t needed as much during the winter season because of the inclement weather.  On the other hand, retail workers experience an increase in hiring shortly before, and during, the holiday season, but can be laid off shortly thereafter.

5.  Surplus unemployment – This is caused by minimum wage laws and unions.  When wages are set at a higher level, unemployment can often result.  Why?  To keep within the same payroll budget, the company must let go of some workers to pay the remaining workers a higher salary.

Other factors influencing the unemployment rate:

1.  Length of unemployment – Some studies indicate that an important factor influencing a worker’s decision to accept a new job is directly related to the length of the unemployment benefit they are receiving.  Currently, in 2019, workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program.  One state (MT) offers more and ten states offer less.  Studies suggest that additional weeks of benefits reduce the incentive of the unemployed to seek and accept less-desirable jobs.

2.  Changes in GDP – Since hiring workers takes time, the improvement in the unemployment rate usually lags the improvement in the GDP.


Now back to the issue at hand, namely the recruiting, and placing, of professionals and those with college degrees.

If you look at the past 20 years of unemployment in the December “management, professional and related” types of worker category, you will find the following rates:

December 2019                       1.8%

December 2018                       2.1%

December 2017                       2.0%

December 2016                       2.2%

December 2015                       2.0%

December 2014                       2.7%

December 2013                       2.9%

December 2012                       3.9%

December 2011                       4.2%

December 2010                       4.6%

December 2009                       4.6%

December 2008                       3.3%

December 2007                       2.0%

December 2006                       1.7%

December 2005                       2.0%

December 2004                       2.5%

December 2003                       2.8%

December 2002                       2.8%

December 2001                       2.9%

December 2000                       1.7%

Here are the rates, during those same time periods, for “college-degreed” workers:

December 2019                       1.9%

December 2018                       2.2%

December 2017                       2.1%

December 2016                       2.5%

December 2015                       2.5%

December 2014                       2.8%

December 2013                       3.4%

December 2012                       4.0%

December 2011                       4.0%

December 2010                       4.8%

December 2009                       4.9%

December 2008                       3.7%

December 2007                       2.1%

December 2006                       1.9%

December 2005                       2.2%

December 2004                       2.5%

December 2003                       3.0%

December 2002                       2.9%

December 2001                       3.1%

December 2000                       1.5%

The December 2020 rates for these two categories, 3.4% and 3.8%, respectively, are still fairly high because so many workers are sheltering in place in their homes and not going to work.  But regardless, these unemployment numbers usually include a good number of job hoppers, job shoppers and rejects.  We, on the other hand, are engaged by our client companies to find those candidates who are happy, well-appreciated, making good money and currently working and we entice them to move for even better opportunities—especially where new technologies are expanding.  This will never change.  And that is why, no matter the overall unemployment rate, we still need to MARKET to find the best possible job orders to work and we still need to RECRUIT to find the best possible candidates for those Job Orders.

Below are the numbers for the over 25-year old’s:

Less than H.S. diploma – Unemployment Rate


H.S. Grad; no college – Unemployment Rate


Some College; or AA/AS – Unemployment Rate


BS/BS + – Unemployment Rate


Management, Professional & Related – Unemployment Rate


Or employed…(,000)


And unemployed…(,000)


For a total Management, Professional & Related workforce of…(,000)


Management, Business and Financial Operations – Unemployment Rate


Professional & Related – Unemployment Rate


Sales & Related – Unemployment Rate