U.S. employment rate slowly inches up in September
VCU, Arizona State survey shows lower unemployment rate, but lost earnings
A survey released Friday by Virginia Commonwealth University and Arizona State University economists indicates that the U.S. employment rate slightly increased during the week ending Sept. 12 to 64.5%, a 2.1% increase from two weeks prior.
Although an improvement, the employment rate currently remains well below its February level of 73.8%, according to the Real-Time Population Survey conducted by VCU business professor Adam Blandin and ASU’s Alexander Bick, an associate professor of economics.
The unemployment rate also decreased by 1.2% during the week of Sept. 6 through Sept. 12, according to the report. Labor force participation, or those who are both employed and at work, increased slightly, but has been fairly flat since June.
The latest survey also showed that among those who were employed in February, 29.6% have had a loss in earnings as of the week ending Sept. 12, which is down from 38.8% in mid-April. This indicates that “some earnings losses experienced early in the pandemic were temporary in nature, according to the survey.” More than one-third of those who are earning less are working but have taken a pay cut relative to February, according to the survey.
Of those working, less than two-thirds are still working for the same employer as in February, with the remaining working for a different employer or not working at all.
“Net increases in employment since April came primarily from a growing number of individuals working for a new employer, rather than returning to their employer from February,” according to the survey. “Among those who worked in February but are not currently working, less than half believe they would be able to return to their previous employer, even if conditions were to improve rapidly.”
The survey is conducted in collaboration with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and follows the methodology of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Study.