BLS Analysis for Recruiters September 2020

Bob Marshall’s September 2020 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 10/2/20

September BLS Preface

TBMG Coaching Updates and Product News:

Before we start this BLS Analysis for Recruiters, how about some good news for a change!

As many of you are aware, the Stock Market is a good barometer of how business feels about the future of the economy.  Not where we are today, but where we will go in the future.  So, in this report, the DJIA numbers give us hope for the future.  Right now, on Friday, October 2nd, at 1 PM eastern time the DJIA is at:

27,835 (last month at this time it was at 28,293).

Now, to give some perspective, consider these DJIA milestones, when most of us were working:

22,000 barrier was crossed on August 2nd, 2017;

23,000 barrier was crossed on October 18th, 2017;

24,000 barrier was crossed on November 30th, 2017:

25,000 barrier was crossed on January 4th, 2018;

26,000 barrier was crossed on January 17th, 2018;

27,000 barrier was crossed on July 11th, 2019

28,000 barrier was crossed on November 15, 2019

29,000 barrier was crossed on January 10, 2020

29,551.42 was achieved on January 12, 2020

So, considering that the pandemic economic disruption is still with us, this little look to the future, provided by our investors, continues to show a lot of promise!

Launching a new TBMG product:

“The PDF Series – individual email format – $24 each

1. “From Failure to Success in Recruitment Sales” – 6-part series – released from Jan. 8, 2019 to Feb. 12, 2019;

2. “John Wooden’s Success Pyramid” – 6-part series – released from Feb. 19, 2019 to Mar. 26, 2019;

3. “Robocruiter and The Total Account Executive” – 11-part series – released from Apr. 23, 2019 to Jul. 9, 2019;

4. “The Opportunity Cost in Not Quitting the Dead Horse Projects” – 11-part series – released from Jul. 16, 2019 to Sep. 24, 2019;

5. “The JOB ORDER” – 6-part series – released from Oct. 1, 2019 to Nov. 5, 2019;

6. “Planning for Your Best Year Ever in 2020 – The ‘Atomic’ Approach” – 7-part series – released from Nov. 13, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019;

7. “The Importance of Marketing – Facing the Monster” – 13-part series – released from Jan. 28, 2020 to Apr. 21, 2020;

8. “Negotiating Techniques Adapted for the Tenured Recruiter” – 13-part series – released from Apr. 29, 2020 to Jul. 21, 2020.

You can choose any, or all, of the above.


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.

Covid-19 Prompts Majority of Job Seekers to Weigh Switching Careers

Daily News, September 28, 2020

Covid-19 is prompting some workers to mull career changes, according to a poll by careers website iHire.  Its survey found that 61.8% of job seekers are considering a major career change in the coming year.  And nearly half of those weighing a career change said such a change is very likely.

“Job seekers are exploring alternative industries not only due to layoffs, but also because their sectors — such as hospitality, culinary and travel — have changed dramatically due to Covid-19 restrictions,” iHire President and CEO Steve Flook said.  “In some cases, people are changing careers because of the high demands of working in essential industries, like healthcare, throughout the pandemic.”

The survey included 2,871 job seekers.  It took place earlier this month.  Respondents came from iHire’s database of active and passive job seekers across 56 industries.

More Than Half of US Firms Plan to Raise Wages in Q4

Daily News, September 23, 2020

Just more than half, 52%, of US hiring decision-makers expect wages to increase in the fourth quarter compared to 2019, according to survey results released by Express Employment Professionals.

In comparison to pre-pandemic levels, Express cited a separate survey by PayScale that took place between November 2019 and January.  It found that 85% planned to give base-pay increases.

In Express’ survey, 53% of respondents who are giving pay increases plan to base them on performance, 51% plan to base them on standard cost of living and 36% say the increases will be based on market rates.

The company noted demand for labor, particularly in manufacturing, is driving pay rate increases and retention bonuses particularly in manufacturing.

Looking at benefits, the survey found that 33% of US hiring decision-makers expect their companies’ benefits to increase, 53% expect benefits to hold consistent and 10% expect benefits to decrease.

“Even when money is tight, employees need to know their efforts are appreciated,” Express CEO Bill Stoller said.  “In this unique time, being flexible with schedules and offering other nontraditional benefits in addition to a healthy company culture goes a long way.”

The Express survey included 1,005 US hiring decision-makers.

Cybersecurity is Most In-Demand Skill, Harvey Nash and KPMG Report

Daily News, September 22, 2020

Cybersecurity is the most in-demand skill, and firms are seeing more cyberattacks amid Covid-19 as more employees are now working from home, according to an annual survey of chief information officers around the globe by staffing provider Harvey Nash and KPMG.

In the survey, 41% of IT leaders reported their companies have experienced more cyberattacks.  The move to working from home appears to have increased exposure from employees.  However, “it is worth noting that this figure could be much higher if all employees were admitting to or even recognized every breach, and technology leaders were not just self-reporting,” according to the report.

Areas where cyberattacks have increased as a result of Covid-19 include spear phishing, cited by 83% of firms, and malware, cited by 62%.

With cybersecurity the most in-demand skill, it is the first time a security-related skill has topped the list of global technology skills shortages for more than a decade.

47% of firms said security and privacy are a top investment.

Overall, the report noted that the IT skills shortage remains close to an all-time high with demand robust, especially for traditional in-house roles.  The report said only 24% of respondents are using more flexible labor as a result of the crisis.

Another finding:  8 out of 10 IT leaders are concerned about the mental health of their teams during Covid-19.

The report’s survey included more than 4,200 IT leaders around the world.

IT Adds Jobs for First Time in 10 Months, ‘Turns Corner’ But Still Volatile

Daily News, September 10, 2020’

Technology jobs in the US rose in August for the first time in 10 months, according to the TechServe Alliance, the national trade association of the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry.

The number of technology jobs in the US rose 0.40% in August from July to 5,133,600 jobs.

However, IT employment fell by 4.12% year over year in August, representing a loss of 220,400 IT workers on a net basis,

“After declining for 10 consecutive months, IT employment posted strong growth in August, turning up by 0.40%,” said TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts.  “After a brutal Spring with two month-over-month declines of more than 1%, it appears we have turned a corner.”

While good news — and IT continues to be more resilient than other sectors — the data do not necessarily indicate it will be “clear sailing” ahead, according to Roberts.

“Given we are still being impacted by the pandemic, we don’t yet have an effective vaccine, and broad swaths of the economy are still reeling, I expect we will continue to see volatility in employment numbers for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Engineering employment also increased in August from July, rising 0.56%, or 14,300 jobs, the organization reported; however, it decreased by 3.36% year over year in August, representing 89,200 engineering workers.

US Employers Foresee Improved Hiring in Q4, But Still Long Way to Go: ManpowerGroup Survey

Daily News, September 8, 2020

US employers reported improved hiring plans for the fourth quarter, according to ManpowerGroup Inc.’s fourth-quarter Employment Outlook Survey of more than 8,700 US employers conducted in July.

“Though we still have a long way to go to recover from what started as a health crisis and has evolved to a social and economic crisis, it is encouraging to see optimistic outlooks in some of the industry’s most heavily impacted including leisure, retail and manufacturing,” Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America, said in a statement.

The survey asked companies how they anticipate total employment to change in the three months to the end of December compared to the current quarter.

It found 20% of firms planned to increase staff, 8% planned a decrease, 67% anticipated no change and 5% didn’t know.

The responses resulted in a “net employment outlook” of 12%, or 14% when adjusted for seasonality.

That 14% outlook is much improved from the 3% reported in the third quarter — although it’s still below the 19% in the second quarter.

The strongest hiring in the fourth quarter is anticipated in “leisure and hospitality” and “transportation and utilities,” with seasonally adjusted net employment outlooks of 22% and 19% respectively.

While ManpowerGroup surveyed 8,700 US employers, it also conducted the survey globally.  In all, 38,000 employers in 43 countries participated.

In Canada, the seasonally adjusted net employment outlook improved to 6% in the latest report from -9% in the previous quarter.  In Mexico, the seasonally adjusted net employment outlook rose to 1% from -9% in the third-quarter report.

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Over 60% of all new job growth in September 2020 came from Small and Medium-size Companies!

September 30, 2020

Private sector employment increased by 749,000 jobs from August to September according to the September 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 August total of jobs added was revised from 428,000 to 481,000.

Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment:             749,000

By Company Size

Small businesses:                    192,000

1-19 employees                        121,000

20-49 employees                        71,000

Medium businesses:               259,000

50-499 employees                    259,000

Large businesses:                   297,000

500-999 employees                     75,000

1,000+ employees                     222,000

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                196,000

A.  Natural resources/mining                               7,000

B.  Construction                                                  60,000

C.  Manufacturing                                             130,000

II.  Service-providing:                              552,000

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                        186,000

B.  Information                                                      7,000

C.  Financial activities                                                     29,000

D.  Professional/business services                       78,000

                        1.  Professional/technical services                             26,000

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                  5,000

                        3.  Administrative/support services                           47,000

            E.  Education/health services                               90,000

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                101,000

                        2.  Education                                                           <-11,000>

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                           92,000

            G.  Other services                                                  60,000

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                        20,700

“The labor market continues to recover gradually,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.  “In September, the majority of sectors and company sizes experienced gains with trade, transportation and utilities; and manufacturing leading the way.  However, small businesses continued to demonstrate slower growth.”

(The October 2020 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on November 4, 2020.)

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.

September 2020 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             192,000

●By Size  
►1-19 employees 121,000
►20-49 employees 71,000
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 43,000
►Service Producing 149,000
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing 26,000
►Service Producing 95,000
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 17,000
►Service Producing 54,000

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 – July 2020

September 9, 2020

The number of job openings increased to 6,600,000 on the last business day of July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Hires decreased to 5,800,000 in July.  Total separations was little changed at 5,000,000.  Within separations, the quits rate rose to 2.1% while the layoffs and discharges rate decreased to 1.2%.  These changes in the labor market reflected an ongoing resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.  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 July, the number and rate of job openings increased to 6,600,000 (+617,000) and 4.5%, respectively.  Job openings rose in a number of industries, with the largest increases in retail trade (+172,000), health care and social assistance (+146,000), and construction (+90,000).  The number of job openings increased in the South and Midwest regions.


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


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



In July, the number and rate of hires decreased to 5,800,000 (-1,183,000) and 4.1%, respectively.  Over the year, the hires level was little changed. Hires decreased in a number of industries, with the largest fall in accommodation and food services (-599,000), followed by other services (-143,000), and health care and social assistance (-137,000). Hires increased in federal government (+33,000), largely because of Census hiring. Hires also increased in real estate and rental and leasing (+26,000). The number of hires decreased in all four 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 July, the number and rate of total separations was little changed at 5,000,000 and 3.6%, respectively.  Total separations increased in retail trade (+112,000) and in state and local government education (+49,000).  The number of total separations decreased in durable goods manufacturing (-44,000).  Total separations was little changed in all 4 regions. 

In July, the number and rate of quits increased to 2,900,000 (+344,000) and 2.1%, respectively.  Quits increased in retail trade (+152,000), professional and business services (+98,000), and state and local government education (+35,000).  The number of quits increased in the Midwest and West regions.

The number and rate of layoffs and discharges decreased to 1,700,000 (-274,000) and 1.2%, respectively in July.  The layoffs and discharges level decreased in durable goods manufacturing (-40,000), transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-40,000), and wholesale trade (-21,000).  The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in the Northeast and South regions.

The number of other separations was little changed in July at 337,000.  Other separations increased in a few industries, with the largest increases in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+35,000) and state and local government education (+16,000).  Other separations decreased in health care and social assistance (-22,000).  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 July, hires totaled 70,200,000 and separations totaled 78,500,000, yielding a net employment loss of 8,200,000.  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 August 2020 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. (ET).


As we recruiters know, that 6,600,000 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 6,600,000 published job openings now become a total of 33,000,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Rises in August

September 11, 2020

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine™ (HWOL) Index rose in August and now stands at 105.1 (July 2018=100), up from 103.4 in July.  The Index rose 10.3% from June to July 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.

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 Technologiesdelivers 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 is Wednesday, October 7 at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In September 2020, the regular unemployment rate fell .5% to 7.9% and the broader U-6 measure fell 1.4% to 12.8%.  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 12.8% 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 September U-6 numbers for the previous 17 years:

September 2019          6.9%

September 2018          7.5%

September 2017          8.3%

September 2016          9.7%

September 2015          10.0%

September 2014          11.7%

September 2013          13.6%

September 2012          14.7%

September 2011          16.4%

September 2010          17.1%

September 2009          17.0%

September 2008          11.2%

September 2007          8.4%

September 2006          8.0%

September 2005          9.0%

September 2004          9.4%

September 2003          10.4%

The September 2020 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September.  These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.  In September, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services.  Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised up by 27,000, from +1,734,000 to +1,761,000, and the change for August was revised up by 118,000, from +1,371,000 to +1,489,000.  With these revisions, employment in July and August combined was 145,000 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 October 2nd, 2020, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for September 2020 of 7.9% (actually, it is 7.855% down by 0.57% from 8.425% in August.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 12,580,000

(–down from the month before by 970,000—since September 2019, this number has increased by 6,827,000) by the total civilian labor force of 160,143,000 (down by 695,000 from August 2020).  Since September 2019, our total civilian labor force has decreased by 3,908,000 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 260,742,000.  This is an increase of 184,000 from last month’s increase of 185,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,104,000. For the last 3 years the Civilian Noninstitutional Population has increased each month—except in December 2016, December 2018 & December 2019—by…)

Up from 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 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
Up from November 2017by160,000
Up from October 2017by183,000
Up from September 2017by204,000
Up from August 2017by205,000
Up from July 2017by206,000

This month the BLS has decreased the Civilian Labor Force to 160,143,000 (down from August by 695,000, mainly due to the reopening of the economy).

Subtract the second number (‘civilian labor force’) from the first number (‘civilian noninstitutional population’) and you get 100,599,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’—up by 879,000 from last month’s 99,720,000.  In one year, this NILF population has increased by 5,012,000.  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—fell .3% to 61.4%.  This ‘reopening’ rate is 1% 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 September was 4.5% (this rate was 1% lower than last month’s 5.5%).  Or you can look at it another way.  We usually place people who have college degrees.  That unemployment rate in September  was4.8% (this rate was .5% lower than last month’s 5.3%).

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 September 30th, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of <-31.4%> in the second quarter of 2020, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the first quarter, real GDP decreased <-5.0%>.

The “third” estimate of GDP released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued last month.  In the second estimate, the decrease in real GDP was 31.7%.  The upward revision with the third estimate primarily reflected an upward revision to personal consumption expenditures (PCE) that was partly offset by downward revisions to exports and to nonresidential fixed investment

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on the Second-Quarter 2020 GDP Estimate

The decline in second quarter GDP reflected the response to COVID-19, as “stay-at-home” orders issued in March and April were partially lifted in some areas of the country in May and June, and government pandemic assistance payments were distributed to households and businesses.  This led to rapid shifts in activity, as businesses and schools continued remote work and consumers and businesses canceled, restricted, or redirected their spending.  The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be

quantified in the GDP estimate for the second quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

The decrease in real GDP reflected decreases in PCE, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by an increase in federal government spending.  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

Updates to GDP

In the third estimate, the second-quarter change in real GDP was revised up 0.3% from the second estimate.  PCE, residential investment, and state and local government spending were revised up.  These upward revisions were partly offset by downward revisions to exports and to private nonresidential fixed investment (mainly intellectual property products).

Bringing Together National, Industry, and State GDP Statistics

BEA has accelerated the release of its industry and state GDP statistics to align with the quarterly estimates of national GDP.  Starting with today’s GDP release, GDP by industry statistics are issued on the same day – and in the same news release – as the third estimate of national GDP.  GDP by state statistics will follow in a separate news release within 2 days.  These 3 major dimensions of GDP are now synchronized to cover the same quarter, giving users a fuller and more timely view of the U.S. economy.

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 decreased 34.4%, private services-producing industries decreased 33.1%, and government decreased 16.6%.  Overall, 20 of 22 industry groups contributed to the second-quarter decline in real GDP.  Within private goods-producing industries, the leading contributor to the decrease was durable goods manufacturing (led by motor vehicles, bodies and trailers, and parts).

Within private services-producing industries, the leading contributors to the decrease were accommodation and food services (led by food services and drinking places); health care and social assistance (led by ambulatory health care); transportation and warehousing (led by air transportation); arts, entertainment, and recreation; wholesale trade; and professional, scientific, and technical services.  Offsetting these decreases was an increase in finance and insurance (led by the securities and banking industries).

The decrease in government was more than accounted for by a decrease in state and local government which was partly offset by an increase in federal government.


*          *          *

Next release, October 29, 2020 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Gross Domestic Product, Third Quarter 2020 (Advance Estimate)



‘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 September “management, professional and related” types of worker category, you will find the following rates:

September 2019                      1.9%

September 2018                      2.0%

September 2017                      2.3%

September 2016                      2.7%

September 2015                      2.4%

September 2014                      2.8%

September 2013                      3.5%

September 2012                      3.9%

September 2011                      4.4%

September 2010                      4.4%

September 2009                      5.2%

September 2008                      2.8%

September 2007                      2.1%

September 2006                      2.1%

September 2005                      2.3%

September 2004                      2.5%

September 2003                      3.2%

September 2002                      3.3%

September 2001                      2.4%

September 2000                      1.8%

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

September 2019                      2.0%

September 2018                      2.0%

September 2017                      2.2%

September 2016                      2.5%

September 2015                      2.5%

September 2014                      2.9%

September 2013                      3.7%

September 2012                      4.0%

September 2011                      4.2%

September 2010                      4.5%

September 2009                      4.8%

September 2008                      2.6%

September 2007                      2.0%

September 2006                      2.0%

September 2005                      2.3%

September 2004                      2.6%

September 2003                      3.2%

September 2002                      2.9%

September 2001                      2.5%

September 2000                      1.9%

The September 2020 rates for these two categories, 4.5% and 4.8%, 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