According to the October jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers added 638,000 jobs last month, as the economy continues to recover from COVID-19-related disruption. These gains outpace many analysts’ expectations and mark six consecutive months of job growth. 

The BLS also revised its jobs data for August and September, noting that those two months collectively saw 15,000 more positions added than previously reported.

Leisure and hospitality sector leads in job gains

Employers in the leisure and hospitality sector led the way in October, adding 271,000 jobs. Though this sector has added 4.8 million jobs since April, the BLS reports that leisure and hospitality employment is still down by 3.5 million since February. 

Employers in professional and business services increased payrolls by 208,000 jobs last month. Those gains included 108,700 positions in temporary help services.

These sectors also saw notable job growth last month:

  • Retail trade: 103,700 jobs added
  • Construction: 84,000 jobs added
  • Transportation and warehousing: 63,200 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 57,000 jobs added
  • Other services: 47,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing: 38,000 jobs added 
  • Financial activities: 31,000 jobs added 

Unemployment rate slides to 6.9% 

The national unemployment rate was 6.9% in October, a full point lower than September’s 7.9% figure. 

The unemployment rate for college-degreed professionals who are 25 or older was 4.2% last month, down from 4.8% in September. These workers are the most highly sought-after by employers.

What employers need to know

Over the past several months, remote work arrangements have become more common and even essential for some businesses. Research from Robert Half shows that more than half (53%) of employers have hired full-time or temporary staff remotely since the pandemic began

One advantage of hiring remotely is that your talent search isn’t limited to your local area. In our survey, 60% of managers who have hired remote workers said they expanded their search geographically to access a wider candidate pool. 

No matter how wide you cast your net, though, your business is likely to face competition for top professionals. Working with a specialized staffing firm like Robert Half can help you move quickly to find candidates whose skills and experience align with the requirements for the open role, whether it’s a full-time or interim position. We have millions of candidates in our database, and virtual workspaces that enable remote workers to access your data and systems securely.

Here are additional resources that can help you hire and manage remote workers:

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What job seekers need to know

A growing number of businesses that shifted to remote work because of the COVID-19 crisis are looking at all-remote or hybrid work arrangements for the long term. Not only have they found remote work efficient, cost-effective and productive, but many of their employees have also discovered they prefer working remotely. 

Being open to remote work can benefit you as a job seeker. For one thing, it allows you to pursue opportunities outside of your immediate area. It might even help you get hired faster. It’s often easier for companies to conduct video interviews and move the hiring process along more quickly than in the past, when the vast majority of interviews took place in person. 

If you’re unsure about becoming a remote worker, consider giving the arrangement a test-drive. A specialized staffing firm like Robert Half can help you find remote jobs on an interim basis. If you’re confident you want to work remotely full-time, we can help you find those opportunities, too. And, if you’re set on applying for positions that are on-site only, our staffing professionals can help you connect with employers hiring for those types of roles.

Read the infographic text.


638,000 JOBS ADDED*




Unemployment RateUnemployment Rate for College Grads
November '193.5% 2.0%
December '193.5% 1.9%
January '203.6% 2.0%
February '20 3.5%1.9%
March '20 4.4%2.5%
April '20 14.7%8.4%
May '20 13.3% 7.4%
June '20 11.1% 6.9%
July '2010.2% 6.7%
August '20 8.4%5.3%
September '20 7.9% 4.8%
October '20 6.9% 4.2%

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

**College-degreed workers 25 and older

See what these results mean for job seekers and employers at


53% of senior managers have hired full-time or temporary staff remotely since the pandemic began.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 2,800 senior managers in the U.S.

© 2020 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.