Job Market Update: September 2016

Once more healthcare and business services support a large portion of increases. Other industries with large contribution include food services, drinking places and retail.


Click here to download our PDF version

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest jobs report, the U.S. showed steady employment growth in the month of September. Compared to August’s numbers, September reports a moderate gain of 156,000 non-farm jobs. After holding steady for three months, the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.0%. Again, following the trend from last month, healthcare and professional and business services sectors keep providing the economy with the largest monthly gains. Other subsectors with substantial contributions include food services, drinking places, clothing and clothing accessories stores. As economic indicators go, this one emphasizes the health of the current employment situation.

The average hourly earnings is up 6 cents from $25.73 to $25.79. Average earnings have increased by 2.6% year-over-year.

Significant revisions were made to previous reports. Unfortunately, July’s employment growth projections were revised down from +275,000 to +252,000. However, August’s numbers rose from +151,000 to +167,000. All together, there is a difference of -7,000 jobs.

In Your Industry

September continues to trend up positively adding 156,000 jobs per month; averaging 178,000 month-over-month in 2016. Most industries experienced weak to moderate growth in September.

Construction grew moderately, adding 23,000 jobs in September. Top contributors to growth include Specialty trade contractors (+14,700), and Residential building (+7,900). What appears to be a trend, Commercial construction trended downward in September, while residential work went up.

Manufacturing continued to experience losses in September, losing 13,000 jobs. Nearly every subsector downsized. Transportation equipment (-4,200) and Food manufacturing (-4,300) represent the industry’s largest decreases.

Retail trade grew moderately, adding 22,000 jobs in September. Nearly every subsector experienced some growth. Clothing and clothing accessories stores (+14,300), gasoline stations (+7,500) and Motor vehicle and parts dealers (+4,500) added the most jobs in September. That growth offsets small losses in some subsectors; including Building material and garden supply stores (-4,600), miscellaneous retailers (-3,100) and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-2,100).

Transportation and warehousing suffered losses in September (-9,000) that chip away at gains in August. The only subsectors that experienced the most gains in September were warehousing and storage (+5,300), support activities for transportation (+3,300) and couriers and messengers (+2,700).

Professional and business services continued its growth, adding 67,000 new jobs in September. Administrative and waste services (+34,000), Professional and technical services (+29,000) and management and technical consulting services (+15,900) added the most jobs in September.

Temporary help services saw a significant expansion of 23,200 jobs in September. It appears that companies are preparing for seasonal hiring during the holidays.

Education and health services increased by 29,000. Most of that growth occurred in Health care and social assistance. Ambulatory services added 23,900 new jobs while Hospital added 6,900. Surprisingly, social assistance downsized by -10,900, with child day care services being responsible for -10,300 positions.

Leisure and hospitality increased by 15,000. Accommodation and food services added the most positions, up 34,700. The most gains occurred in food services and drinking places (+29,700).

In Your Region

Unemployment rates increased notably in 6 states, decreased in 3 and remained unchanged in 41 plus the District of Columbia. When compared to the previous year, 5 states have seen an increase in employment. Ten states experienced employment decreases while 35 and the District of Columbia remained unchanged.

The joblessness rate was unchanged month-over-month but down 0.2 percentage points when compared to August of 2015. Over the month of August the West (5.3%) had an unemployment rate considered significantly higher than the national average. The Midwest (4.5%) had a rate that was significantly lower.

Again, following the trend, the West North Central region has the lowest unemployment rate, at 4.1%. The Pacific region had the highest rate, 5.4%. For states South Dakota (2.9%) and New Hampshire (3.0%) continue to have the lowest unemployment rates in August. Though they are the lowest, both rates are higher than they were in July. Alaska had the highest joblessness rate at 6.8%.

Check out these key regional highlights from the BLS “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment –August 2016" report.


After holding steady for four months, the Mid-Atlantic region’s unemployment rate slightly changed at 5.1%. New York’s unemployment also experienced a moderate increase at 4.8% from last month. New Jersey’s increased another 0.1% from 5.2% to 5.3%. Once more, Pennsylvania remains the highest with 5.7 percent.


The Midwest’s joblessness rate remained steady at 4.5%. Illinois unemployment rate continued to downward trend, moving from 5.8 to 5.5% over the month. Despite that sharp decrease, Illinois still has the highest unemployment rate in the region.

North Dakota (3.1%), South Dakota (2.9%), Nebraska (3.2%) and Minnesota (4.0%) all have unemployment rates at or below 4.0%. Iowa (4.2%), Wisconsin (4.2%), Kansas (4.3%), Indiana (4.5%), Ohio (4.7%) and Michigan (4.5%) have rates lower the national average. The Detroit metro area’s unemployment remains unchanged at 4.9%.


The New England region’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.2%. Vermont (3.3%), New Hampshire (3.0%), Massachusetts (3.9%) and Maine (4.0%) have extremely low unemployment rates. To counter low unemployment in most of the region, both Connecticut and Rhode Island (5.6%) have unemployment rates well above the national average of 5.0%.


The South’s unemployment rate held at 4.7% for three consecutive months. In August, the West South Central (4.8%) and South Atlantic region’s (4.5%) both had unemployment rates lower than the national average of 5.0%. Arkansas (3.9%), Virginia (3.9%) and Tennessee (4.4%) have the lowest unemployment rates of the region.


The West continues to have the highest unemployment rate of any region in the country, at 5.3%. Colorado remains unchanged at 3.8%. Washington (5.7%), Nevada (6.3%), Wyoming (5.5%), Arizona (6.8%) and New Mexico (6.6%) have some of the highest and are well above the national average.

Related Articles

Introducing the Intern Generation

Find out why graduate work can be a great asset in your engineering career.

read more
Watch the skills gap

See how U.S. executives see the skills gap impacting the American workforce.

read more