On Friday past the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report, which showed that unemployment declined to a level not seen since 1969.
According to the report the unemployment rate declined to 3.5 percent in September; the report indiated that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 136,000.
As was true in August and for a number of months before that month, the number of jobs in the health care sector and in professional and business services increased.
In particular, the unemployment rate decreased by two tenths of a percent to 3.5 percent. The BLS maintained that the last time the unemployment rate was as low as 3.5 percent was about fifty years ago. In contrast, during part of the 1970's "stagflation" was taking place.
Stagflation is a combination of high inflation and high levels of unemployment. For years the thought was common that low unemployment, or what is referred to as "full employment", often meant higher levels of inflation.
In actual numbers, a decrease of two tenths of a percent means that the number of unemployed persons decreased by 275,000 during the month of September. In official terms, the number of unemployed was 5.8 million.
During the Clinton administration in the 1990's the way unemployment was measured changed. After those changes were implemented, the long-term unemployed, that is, those who have given up looking for work, were not counted in unemployment statistics.
According to the BLS report, there appeared to be fewer people who were employed in temporary jobs: the number of people who lost jobs or who completed temporary jobs declined by 304,000 to 2.5 in September, while the number of "new entrants increased by 103,000 to 677,000.
The BLS defines the term "new entrants" as those persons unemployed who never previously worked.
The report showed that the number of persons employed for less than several weeks declined by 339,000 to 1.9 million. The number of long-term unemployed--those unemployed for 27 weeks or more--changed little at 1.3 million; the long-term unemployed accounted for about 22.7 percent of the unemployed.
The labor force participation was unchanged at 63.2 percent in September. The employment population ratio, at 61 percent, which was little changed but was up by six tenths of a percent year on year.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons--sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers---ws unchanged at 4.4 million during the month of September, according to the BLS report.
The term "Involuntary part-time workers" means that those are employed part-time would prefer working full-time. These are the workers were "unable to find full-time jobs."
This was a positive aspect of the statistics: The number of those "marginally attached to the labor force" was down by 278,000 from a year earlier. In September there were 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force. Those are persons who wanted and were availale for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior year.
They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 321,000 discouraged workers in September. That number was little changed from a year earlier, according to the BLS report.
Discouraged workers are persons not cvurrently lookinbg for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
All of these numbers are based on data that were not "seasonally adjusted".
Seasonally adjusted means considering employment data in the context of weather, which has an effect on the number of those employed and those unemployed. For example, in the immediate aftermath of a sever hurricane, which destroys a number of businesses and causes widespread power outages, the number of those employed in the affected area declines.
Thus far, in 2019, job growth has averaged 161,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018.
The BLS report indicated that in September the number of health care jobs increased by about 39,000. This number is cohnsistent with previous trends in the past year.
In September professional jobs and jobs in business services increased by about 34,000. Thus far in 2019, the number of such jobs added per month has averaged 35,000 per month, compared with 47,000 jobs per month in 2018.
Employment in government also expanded: About 22,000 such jobs were added last month.
Consistent with an increase in online commerce, in September employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 16,000. As well, job growth took place in transit and ground passenger transportation.
On the other hand, also consistent with changes in the way many people buy goods and services, the number of retail jobs declined by 11,000. Still, those numbers are part of a trend that's been taking place over a period of time. Since reaching a peak in January 2017, retail trade has lost nearly 200,000 jobs.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in September. In manufacturing, the average workweek and overtime remained at 40.5 hours and 3.2 hours, respectively. The average workweek of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees held at 33.6 hours.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised up by 7,000 from 159,000 to 166,000, and the change for August was revised up by 38,000 from 130,000 to 168,000.
With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 45,000 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.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 157,000 per month over the last 3 months.