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Unemployment declined to 7.9 percent in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to their report, this reflects a “continued resumption of economic activity” that was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following industries experienced notable job gains: leisure and hospitality, retail trade, health care and social assistance, and professional and business services.

Within the real estate industry, financial activities added 20,000 jobs in rental and leasing. Additionally, construction employment increased by 26,000 in September, with residential specialty trade contractors up 16,000 jobs.

How the Industry Is Responding:

“The jobs recovery continued in September, with another 661,000 net new jobs. Government jobs fell as fewer Census takers were needed, and layoffs of school support staff occurred as many courses have gone online. The private sector added 877,000 jobs, and the overall unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent. Another 9 million job additions are needed to match the pre-pandemic employment conditions when the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. It is worth noting the vast divergence that has developed among states. Five states have unemployment rates below 5 percent: Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont. But states with a stricter and longer lockdown, or heavily dependent on tourism, have unemployment rates above 10 percent, such as New York, California, Illinois, Nevada, and Hawaii. Let’s hope for some additional stimulus measures to get the economy moving faster.” — Dr. Lawrence Yun, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist

“There is a tremendous amount of churn in this job market. The pace of layoffs remains high, and even though many employees are being rehired, net employment gains are slowing. Total employment remains 7 percent below its February level. One noteworthy development was that private employment increased by a strong 877,000 jobs, while government employment fell by 216,000—driven by drops in local government education employees, as many schools did not bring their workforces back in September. Job growth is going to be more difficult in the coming months. Workers on temporary layoff continue to be called back to work, but the number of permanent job losses have increased by 2.5 million since February. More businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

“The decline in the unemployment rate, while welcome, was certainly impacted by a decrease in the labor force participation rate. That said, it is positive to see the U-6 and other broader measures of underemployment decline as well. For the housing market, record-low mortgage rates and an improving job market should support strong demand for the rest of the year. However, further slowdowns in hiring could cause some households to delay decisions to buy.” — Mike Fratantoni, SVP and Chief Economist, Mortgage Bankers Association

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