September 2017 Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Falls Despite Job Losses

By Robert Half October 6, 2017 at 3:37pm

The U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This marks the first time in seven years that payrolls have contracted. 

Most sectors of the economy saw some job growth in September, though, including the following:

  • Healthcare added 23,000 jobs. Over the past 12 months, healthcare employers have created an average of 27,000 positions per month, according to the BLS. 
  • Professional and business services payrolls increased by 13,000 jobs. 
  • Financial activities grew by 10,000 jobs. This includes insurance-related positions, which employers added last month because of hurricane-recovery efforts. 

These gains were offset, however, by losses in a handful of areas. Most notably was the leisure and hospitality industry, which shed 111,000 jobs.

Analysts generally consider the massive hurricanes in Texas and Florida to be a primary reason for last month’s job losses. Even with September’s results, job growth has been strong in 2017, with more than 1.3 million positions created so far this year.

A bright spot from September’s job report was the unemployment rate, which edged down to 4.2 percent, the lowest since February 2001. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older — the most sought-after candidates by employers — also declined, to 2.3 percent. 

What employers need to know

September’s jobs report is likely a blip on the radar rather than an indication of a larger trend. The fact remains that skilled workers are in high demand. And they’re very difficult to find, as indicated by the low unemployment rate. 

As you launch recruiting efforts, be aware that speed is of the essence. Top candidates may be considering multiple job offers and aren’t going to wait long for you to reach a decision. Research by our company shows that a quarter of job seekers will wait just one week after an interview to hear back from an employer before moving on to other opportunities.

What job seekers need to know

The employment market is always shifting, but many employers are still struggling to staff open roles. In fact, the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the BLS notes that there were more than 6.2 million open positions in the U.S. at the end of July. 

Many employers are scouring the landscape for talent, but they are still selective when hiring. They want to make sure they are bringing in the right people to complement existing staff — and avoid making a costly bad hire. Use your resume and the interview to explain how you can add value to an organization and why you feel you’d fit well within an employer’s corporate culture.

An infographic showing results from the September 2017 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and research from Robert Half

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