Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release


Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
                                
                          Statement of

                           Keith Hall
                          Commissioner
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                
                           before the
                    Joint Economic Committee
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS

                     Friday, October 2, 2009


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employment and
unemployment data we released this morning.
     
     Job losses continued in September, and the unemployment rate
continued to trend up, reaching 9.8 percent.  Nonfarm payroll
employment fell by 263,000 over the month, and losses have
averaged 307,000 per month since May.  Payroll employment has
fallen for 21 consecutive months, with declines totaling 7.2
million.  In September, notable job losses occurred in
construction, manufacturing, government, and retail trade.
     
     Construction employment decreased by 64,000 in September.
Job losses averaged 66,000 per month from May through September,
compared with an average of 117,000 per month from November 2008
through April.
     
     Employment in manufacturing declined by 51,000 in September.
Job losses in factories averaged 53,000 per month over the past 3
months, about one-third the average monthly decline from October
through June.
     
     In September, retail trade employment fell by 39,000.  The
industry has lost an average of 29,000 jobs per month since
April, down from an average loss of 68,000 for the prior 6-month
period.  Employment in government decreased by 53,000 in
September.  Much of the decline was in local government.
     
     Employment continued to increase in health care (19,000).
The average monthly job gain thus far in 2009 is 22,000, compared
with an average monthly gain of 30,000 during 2008.
     
     Average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector were up by one cent in September to
$18.67.  This followed a gain of 7 cents in August.  Over the
past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5
percent.  From August 2008 to August 2009, the Consumer Price
Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
declined by 1.9 percent.
     
     Turning now to some measures from our household survey, the
unemployment rate continued to trend up in September.  The
jobless rate has doubled since the start of the recession to 9.8
percent.  A total of 15.1 million persons were unemployed in
September, twice the number at the start of the recession.
     
     The number of long-term unemployed rose to 5.4 million in
September.  This group has grown more than four-fold since the
start of the recession.
     
     In September, the employment-population ratio continued to
decline.  At 58.8 percent, the ratio has fallen by 3.9 percentage
points since the recession began and is at its lowest level since
January 1984.
     
     Among the employed, there were 9.2 million persons working
part time in September who would have preferred full-time work.
While the number of such workers has been little changed since
March, it has nearly doubled since the start of the recession.
     
      In keeping with standard practice, we are announcing the
preliminary estimate for the next benchmark revision to payroll
employment.  The benchmark process annually revises the payroll
survey’s sample-based employment estimates to incorporate
universe employment counts derived primarily from unemployment
insurance tax reports.

      Preliminary tabulations indicate that the estimate of total
nonfarm payroll employment for March 2009 will require a downward
revision of approximately 824,000, or six-tenths of one percent.
The historical average for the benchmark revision over the prior
10 years has been plus or minus two-tenths of one percent.  Most
of the additional job loss occurred in the first quarter of 2009,
when payroll employment was declining most steeply, and appears
to be due in part to an increase in the number of business
closings.

      The final benchmark revision will be incorporated into the
payroll survey with the publication of January data on February
5, 2010.  Historical data series will be revised at that time.

     In summary, the labor market remained weak in September.
Payroll employment fell, and the unemployment rate continued to
trend up.
     
     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your
questions.
     
     
     

Last Modified Date: October 02, 2009
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