Monthly Hiring and Applicant Activity Meter

Published: October 12, 2021
Covering Data of September 2021

Summary for September 2021

September 2021 was the second consecutive month of hiring data falling short of predictions put forth by economists and industry leaders. Though there were some bright spots, and some measures continue to show positive movement, the change is not as rapid as many expected. The overall employment picture in the United States continues to indicate there is room for improvement.

The unemployment rate declined to 4.8% in September (from 5.2% in August 2021 and 5.4% in July 2021)

The total number of nonfarm payroll employment rose by +194,000 in September (August 2021 was revised upward to +366,000)

The number of unemployed persons fell by 710,000 to 7.7 million in September (from 8.4 million in August 2021)

Average wages increased in September 2021.

Ten Takeaways for September 2021

  • Unemployment rate, new hire data, unemployed person and wage statistics are published monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and can be read here.
  • This is the second consecutive month economists predicted drastically more hiring than the reports actual results (August 2021 predicted 700,000 new hires compared to an adjusted +366,000 new hires; September 2021 had predictions of 500,000 new hires versus this report’s +194,000) (source: Dow Jones via CNBC
  • The average hourly earnings for all employees rose in September which continues the trend over the past 5 months. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics summarizes, “the data for recent months suggest that the rising demand for labor associated with the recovery from the pandemic may have put upward pressure on wages” while noting that the large employment fluctuations since February 2020, the start of the pandemic, make some of this data difficult to compare.
  • Industries that led the increases in new hiring included Leisure and Hospitality (+74,000); Professional and business services (+60,000); Retail (+56,000); Transportation and Warehousing (+47,000) and the Information industry (+32,000).
  • Industries that saw a decrease in new hiring were led by local government education (-144,000) and state government (-17,000). This is likely attributed to a difficulty in interpreting back to school hiring patterns.
  • Nonfarm employment has increased by 17.4 million since the pandemic lowpoint of April 2020. However, nonfarm employment is still down 5.0 million from February 2020 (the pre-pandemic baseline). 
  • In September, seasonally adjusted unemployment claims remained mostly flat compared to the previous three months and down significantly over the past 12 months (source: U.S. Department of Labor). 
  • Towards the end of September, Job postings showed continued stable growth. Indeed reports that job postings are 43.6% above the pre-pandemic baseline (source: Indeed Hiring Lab).
  • ADP breaks down data by company size (Small is 1-49 employees; Midsized is 50-499 employees; Large is 500+ employees). ADP’s September data shows +63,000 employment for Small business; +115,000 for Midsized and +390,000 for Large (source: ADP National Employment Report). 
  • End of year seasonal jobs are starting to rise. According to Indeed, though the share of seasonal job postings on Indeed’s US site are starting to climb, as of September 22 were 30% below 2020 and 23% below 2019 (source: Indeed Hiring Lab).