September 2019 Employment Report by Bruce Steinberg

Bruce Steinberg’s Month Employment situation was just released, finding that the unemployment rate has drop to the lowest it has been since 1969. At 3.5%, the unemployment rate drop 0.2% this month alone. The private sector and Government jobs saw an increase, though this may be in-part due to the upcoming 2020 Census seeing an increase in temporary employees.

The September Employment report has detailed updates on job trends in all sectors. Send it to your staffing colleagues to keep your team up to date:


Quick Recap


The unemployment rate was declined 0.2 percent in September to 3.5 percent, a level it has not been at since 1969. The number of employed persons increased as the number of unemployed persons decreased as the size of the labor force also increased, but not by very much, relatively speaking … see the Household Survey section below for more details and explanations.

The other side of the monthly employment situation was just as interesting. Although the number of nonfarm jobs increased by 136,000 in September, and although this was off from August’s increase of 168,000. Although a significant portion of August’s increase was due to the Federal government hiring more than 27,000 temporary workers for the upcoming 2020 Census, this impact on September’s employment numbers was marginal with BLS reporting only 1,000 Census workers were hired in September

Overall private-sector hourly wages were down 0.04 percent, or one cent and this is a very curious trend. It may be a result of a shift of overall private-sector payrolls to the lower end / lower skilled end of the job spectrum.

And Temporary help services continued to recover with the second consecutive month of solid increases after three straight months of declines.


Jobs Report


Private-sector jobs were up only 114,000 in September, which was below the 122,000 increase of August, which was revised upward by 26,000. A year ago in September 2018, private-sector jobs increased 108,000.

The private Goods-producing sector was up 5,000 jobs in September and that was all due to the contribution of the construction sector. In August, there was a marginal increase of 1,000 jobs; however, a year ago in September 2018, it was up 38,000.


  • Manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs in September after adding that same amount of 2,000 in August that followed an increase of 4,000 in July; a year ago in September 2018, manufacturing was up 18,000 jobs. It appears that reports of a decline in U.S. manufacturing activity are really starting to show up in the jobs data.

  • The Construction sector continued to build jobs and gained 7,000 jobs in September after increasing by 4,000 in August; a year ago in September 2018, it added 17,000 jobs.


  • Mining and logging was flat in September after declining by 5,000 in August; a year ago in September 2018, it was up 3,000.

The private Service-providing sector increased by 109,000 jobs in September, which was not as good as the 121,000 it added in August but much better than a year ago in September 2018 when it increased by only 70,000.

  • The Retail trade sector’s performance continued to be consistent with a loss of 11,400 jobs in September after eliminating 6,000 in August and a reduction of 2,000 in July; a year ago in September 2018, it contracted by 26,000 jobs.

  • The Wholesale trade sector increased 2,400 in September and that was a nice improvement from August’s flat performance; a year ago in September 2018, it was up 2,000 jobs.

  • The Transportation and warehousing sector got moving again with a gain of 15,700 job in September after losing 4,100 jobs in August; a year ago in September 2018, it increased 23,200 jobs.

  • Financial activities continued to cool off with an increase of only 3,000 in September after adding 15,000 in August; a year ago in September 2018, it increased 14,000 jobs.

  • The Professional and business services sector experienced growth of 34,000 in September and that was less than the 43,000 gain in August; a year ago in September 2018, it was up 53,000. Computer systems design and related services was essentially unchanged with a decline of only 100 jobs, which was an abrupt change in the trend from the increase of 8,000 in August. Management and technical consulting services was up 5,600 in September that was not much off the 5,400 increase in August. Architectural and engineering services was up 3,000 jobs in September, which better than the 1,000 growth observed in August.

  • The Education and health services sector added 40,000 jobs in September that was less than the 56,000 increase in August. Hiring in home health care services continued by adding 5,700 in September although less than the 7,000 increase of August.

  • The Leisure and hospitality sector added 21,000 jobs in September and that was an improvement from the 9,000 increase in August; a year ago in September 2018, it was down 24,000.

The total number of Government jobs was up 22,000 in September. State government added 10,000 while local government added 14,000 and the federal government declined by 2,000.

Temporary Help Services Roundup


The number of temporary help jobs in September was 3,043,600 and that works out to a 0.3 percent increase from August and a 0.4 percent year-over-year increase. The 10,200 increase  in September, along with the 14,500 gain in the previous month, means THS is now almost back to the level where it closed out 2018.

For a chart of temporary help’s growth from January 1991 to September 2019 and comparing its trend to total employment, click here.


(if charts are unclear, click on it to open in a browser window)



In September 2019, temporary help services market share of all jobs continue to recover to 2.0060 percent from the previous downtrend but still below a year ago in September 2018, when it was 2.0262 percent, and two years ago in September 2017, when it was 2.0124 percent. 




  Household Survey


The unemployment rate declined to 3.5 percent in September after being stuck at 3.7 percent for the previous three months.

The number of employed persons increased by 391,000 as the number of unemployed persons declined by 275,000 at the same time the size of the entire labor force increased by only 117,000. However, there were 89,000 more people considered as not in the labor force in September.

The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 63.2 percent in September but the employment-to-population ratio increased 0.1 to 61.0 percent from the previous month.

BTW, we maintain an updated table of many major employment as well as other economic indicators here 
or here for the mobile version.

You can also enjoy this 5 minute video summary of the report.