January 2021 Employment Report by Bruce Steinberg


How the pandemic affected employment by ethnicity …

We closed out 2020 by looking at how the pandemic has impacted the unemployment experience by gender in November and by race in November. This month we look at the impacted it has had on the Hispanic or Latino populations and further by age group and gender.

As the first chart shows that prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate for all Hispanic or Latino men and women was higher than for the overall unemployment rates for the same cohorts, but not my much. [note: unemployment rates for non-Hispanic and non-Latino are not available by different age cohorts. Also, although it may be technically and / or politically more correct to refer to women as Latina, we report these data by the official Bureau of Labor Statistics labels.]

Specifically, the unemployment rate prior to the pandemic in February 2020 for all Hispanic or Latino was 4.4 percent compared to 3.5 percent overall. For Hispanic or Latino men 20 years old and over, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent and about the same at 3.8 percent for all men in that age group. However, for all Hispanic or Latino women 20 years old and over, it was 5.0 percent but much lower at 3.1 percent for all women in that age group.

The unemployment rates for all Hispanic or Latino men and women started out 2020 at 4.7 percent in January and 3.7 percent overall for all men and women, a difference of 1.0 percent. However, the year ended with the unemployment rate for all Hispanic or Latino men and women at 8.9 percent in December, but 6.2 percent overall for all men and women, a difference of 2.7 percent. Also take note that the unemployment rates for men and women for both the Hispanic and Latino cohorts as well as overall workforce were in a very narrow range, albeit markedly higher for the Hispanic and Latino cohort.

In April 2020, the first full month after COVID-19 impacted employment, the unemployment rate for all Hispanic or Latino shot up to 17.8 percent and but only rose to 13.9 percent overall. For Hispanic or Latino men 20 years old and over, the unemployment rate was 16.3 percent but only 12.9 percent for all men in that age group. For all Hispanic or Latino women 20 years old and over, it was 19.8 percent but much lower at 15.1 percent for all women in that age group.

Drilling down further into gender and different age cohorts, it’s understandable that the youngest group for both Hispanic or Latino men and women — 20-24 years old — would have the highest unemployment rates. Interestingly though, the  unemployment rate for Hispanic or Latino women in this age cohort peaked in April at 31.5 percent whereas the rate for men in this same age group did not peak until the following month in May at 25.4 percent.

What the immediate future holds for employment trends remains unknown because the future direction of the pandemic is also unknown, but as vaccinations increase, it is expected to slowly decline. However, the ultimate impact of COVID-19 variants is creating more questions of how the virus will progress.

That uncertainty creates a cautious environment for employers and as some businesses are forced to close their doors, others businesses and individuals who have the fiscal means and optimism for the for a post-pandemic economy are expanding or opening. It may be insensitive to say, but this environment of uncertainty can be a fertile environment for staffing services to furnish workers into an uncertain future.

January 2021 Employment Report

Quick Recap

Despite recovering from December’s loss of more than 200,000 jobs and the January 2021 unemployment rate possibly declining, overall job growth was weak; annual revisions to the jobs data show the employment situation was worse last year than previously reported.

The unemployment rate probably improved to 6.3 percent in January. We say “probably” because updated population estimates to earlier data make comparisons sketchy at best. It was 6.7 percent in December as well as November.

The economy grew by only 49,000 nonfarm jobs in January, but that can be considered a big improvement to the 227,000 decline in December 2020. In November 2020, the number of jobs increased 264,000 and were up 315,000 from a year ago in January 2020.

Average hourly wages were up only six cents in January after rising 29 cents in December and increasing 12 cents in November.

And Temporary help services has now added jobs for the ninth consecutive month in January and at a much higher rate than in the previous month. However, according to the previously mentioned annual revisions to the data, 2020 was worse than previously reported.


Job Report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the economy added only 6,000 private-sector jobs in January 2021, which was clearly an improvement from December’s loss of 204,000, but well below November’s  increase of 359,000; a year ago in January 2020, the private-sector added 255,000 jobs.

The private Goods-producing sector declined by 4,000 in January after added 76,000 in December and increasing 68,000 in November; a year ago in January 2020, it added 36,000 jobs.

  • All Manufacturing was down 10,000 jobs in January despite Nondurable goods manufacturing adding 7,000. In December, all manufacturing added 31,000 jobs.

  • The Construction sector retreated a bit with a loss of 3,000 jobs in January after going gangbusters with a gain of 42,000 in December and increasing 24,000 in November; a year ago in January 2020, it was up 58,000.

  • And Mining and logging discovered the need for 9,000 more jobs in January, which was triple the 3,000 increase in both December as well as the same in November; a year ago in January 2020, it was down 5,000.

The private Service-providing sector added only 10,000 jobs in January with growth dragged down by a several sectors. However, January was an improvement from the previous month of December when it declined by 280,000, which was almost a full reverse of the 291,000 it added in November.

  • The Retail trade sector continued to be very uneven in its staffing with a decrease of 37,800 in January after adding 134,900 in December that had followed a decline of only 2,100 in November.

  • But the Wholesale trade sector continued to move steadily forward with the addition of 14,300 in January after adding 15,500 in December that followed an increase of 14,800 in November.

  • Transportation and warehousing continued to backup with a decline of 27,800 in January that followed a similar loss of 24,100 in December after adding 123,600 in November.

  • Financial activities growth slowed with an increase of only 8,000 jobs in January after adding 18,000 in December and increasing 10,000 in November.

  • Professional and business services sector jobs continue to increase with a gain of 97,000 jobs in January, but that was off the pace of the 156,000 it added in December but about even with the 95,000 it added in November.. Computer systems design and related services continue to improve with the addition of 11,300 jobs in January after adding 19,600 in December. Management and technical consulting services added 16,100 jobs in January after adding 18,400 in December. Architectural and engineering services managed to assembled 4,000 more jobs in January after adding a similar amount of 5,100 in December.

  • The entire private Education and health services sector contracted by 7,000 in January despite a gain of 33,900 private educational services jobs. Home health care services suffered a loss of 13,100 jobs in January after a flat performance in December.

  • The Leisure and hospitality sector sort of improved but is still under water with a loss of 61,000 jobs in January after plummeting by 536,000 in December.

The total number of Government jobs was up 43,000 in January. The Federal government was down 24,000 jobs; state government was up 31,000 with all of that increase in state government education and then some, and local government was up 36,000, again with all of that increase and then some courtesy of local government education.


Temporary Help Services Roundup

Temporary Help Services continued to add jobs and picked up the pace with an increase of 80,900 more jobs in January than December when it added 64,300. This brings the total number of THS jobs to 2,703,700, which works out to a 3.1 percent sequential increase, but down 8.3 percent from January 2020.

Note that Temporary Help Services has added almost 760,000 jobs since April 2020 when it plunged by almost 950,000 from the previous month.

With the 2020 jobs data almost finalized — December 2020 numbers are still considered preliminary — temporary help services can now be reported as down 16.3 percent in 2020 from 2019. For a chart of temporary help’s growth from January 1991 to January 2021 and comparing its trend to total employment, click here.

In January 2021, temporary help services market share, which is its portion of all jobs, increased to 1.8956 percent up from 1.8395 the previous month. A year ago in January 2020 it was 1.9376 percent and two years ago in January 2019 it was 1.9725 percent.

Household Survey

Due to annual revisions / adjustments made to the population controls, making month-over-month comparisons are sketchy at best, we will dispense with comparisons between January 2021 metrics and earlier numbers; we’ll pick up that discussion next month.

With that said, the official unemployment rate in January was 6.3 percent, which may have been an improvement from the 6.7 percent calculated in December.

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