Our team at Bull City Talent Group closely watches the monthly jobs reports to gather insights to help our clients and talent communities plan their hiring and career strategies.
September Jobs Report
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its September Jobs Report last week. Headlines featured the unemployment rate falling to 4.2%, but all eyes were on the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Most analysts agree that the devastating impacts of these hurricanes were strongly reflected in the survey results, with downward sliding numbers in various industries. In markets that we serve at Bull City Talent Group, we noticed only modest impact to hiring rates, new project starts, and project disruption. Among the consulting firms we serve, there were modest lost hours worked due to travel disruption and business shut-downs in south Texas, Florida, and a wide patch of the southeast. However, we believe the effects were greatly mitigated by employers and consulting firms leveraging remote-work capabilities and technologies. The focus of many organizations was on support and recovery efforts for affected employees, which continues into October. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected and with the many brave men and women working tirelessly to help communities get back on their feet.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, by the numbers.
The timing of both hurricanes at the time when survey data was being collected, along with the crippling devastation of both, impacted the September Jobs Report. The hurricanes did not affect the amount of survey data collected, but their timing did affect September survey results. The economy showed the first substantial decline in (non-farm) payroll in many years with 33,000 jobs lost.
The accommodation and food service industry took the biggest hit with a decrease of 105,000 jobs in September; presumed to be the result of hurricane-related closings. In the 12 months prior to September, the food and beverage industry was adding approximately 24,000 jobs per month. The sharp decline in restaurant and bar employment for September reflects job loss due to the devastation of the hurricanes and the fact that food and beverage workers are "off payroll" when they are not working.
A "below trend growth" in other industries such as retail, auto, and hospitality industries seems to mirror that response. To further substantiate Harvey and Irma's impact on the numbers, insurance carriers and related businesses experienced job growth in September; attributed to post-hurricane recovery activity.
While the healthcare, warehousing, and transportation industries all showed increases for September, other major industries (construction, professional, technical, manufacturing) remained steady. According to a statement by the Bureau's Commissioner, they were unable to quantify the impact of the hurricanes on these industries.
Involuntary part-time employees remain steady
Involuntary part-time workers are people who prefer to work full-time but have had their work hours cut or are unable to find full-time work. The number of involuntary part-time workers remained steady at 5.1 million. Our take: On its own, this information is promising, and when coupled with the next data points, even more so.
Marginally attached workers decrease
"Marginally attached" is defined as people who are not working but are available to work. They are not considered unemployed because they had searched for a job within the last 12 months but not the 4 weeks prior* to the information survey for September. There are 1.6 people million people who are marginally attached to the labor force. This shows a decrease of 275,000 from the previous year. Our take: Again, this looks promising and is a good sign for putting people to work. The decrease can suggest that the skills gap may be narrowing.
*The BLS report considers those who have not looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey and the disabled are considered, "outside the labor force".