US adds 8,100 temp jobs in September, but still down 16% year over year


The number of temp jobs in the US edged up by 8,100 in September compared to August for a total of nearly 2.5 million, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, temp jobs remain down 16.1% year over year as gains over the past four months have yet to make up for the loss of 840,500 temp jobs in April as the effects of the pandemic hit the country.

The temp penetration rate — temp jobs as a percent of total employment — was unchanged from August at 1.75%.

The total number of temp jobs in August was revised downward by 1,300 from what was previously reported last month.

When looking at total nonfarm employment, the US added 661,000 jobs in September.

“It is notable that the percentage of the labor force made up of ‘permanent job losers’ is currently 2.3%, levels comparable to those in September/October 2013, when the unemployment rate was 7.2%,” said Tony Gregoire, SIA’s director of custom research.

In September, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in healthcare and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education.

“The workforce expanded faster than expected over the spring and early summer. However, recent data suggest that the rate of job recovery is slowing,” said Gad Levanon, VP of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “We expect the US growth and jobs revivals to continue to decelerate in the coming months as the number of new Covid-19 cases is growing, layoff rates remain high, and weaker government stimulus limit the spending capacity of many households.”

As long as the risk of contagion remains high, total employment may remain well below pre-pandemic levels, according to Levanon. The economy would need to add 5 million to 6 million jobs to return to normal unemployment rates in the 4% to 5% range.

“Between February and April, more than 22 million jobs were lost. Since April, 52% of those jobs have been recovered,” Levanon said.

The US unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in September from 8.4% in August. For March through August, BLS published an estimate of what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified workers been included. September’s true rate, after adjusting for the misclassification error, was 8.3%.

The college-level unemployment rate fell 4.8% in September from 5.3% in August.

Average hourly earnings for all employees was little changed in September, up by two cents to $29.47; average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees was also essentially flat, up one cent to $24.79.

The BLS also reported that 22.7% of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 24.3% in August.

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