November 2020 Jobs Report and Industry Update
“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — October 2020”
“Positive outlook predicts less memory decline”
“Physicists circumvent centuries-old theory to cancel magnetic fields”
“How the immune system remembers viruses”
“Blue-light glasses improve sleep and workday productivity, study finds”
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Economics & Job Creation:
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — OCTOBER 2020
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 638,000 in October, and the unemployment rate
declined to 6.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These
improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity
that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain
it. In October, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, professional and
business services, retail trade, and construction. Employment in government declined.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey
measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The
establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For
more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys,
see the Technical Note.
Household Survey Data
In October, the unemployment rate declined by 1.0 percentage point to 6.9 percent, and
the number of unemployed persons fell by 1.5 million to 11.1 million. Both measures have
declined for 6 consecutive months but are nearly twice their February levels (3.5 percent
and 5.8 million, respectively). (See table A-1. For more information about how the
household survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, see the box
note at the end of this news release.)
Unemployment rates declined among all major worker groups in October. The rate was 6.7
percent for adult men, 6.5 percent for adult women, 13.9 percent for teenagers, 6.0 percent
for Whites, 10.8 percent for Blacks, 7.6 percent for Asians, and 8.8 percent for Hispanics.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff fell by 1.4 million to 3.2
million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 2.4
million higher than in February. The number of permanent job losers, at 3.7 million in October,
changed little over the month but is 2.4 million higher than in February. (See table A-11.)
In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased
by 1.2 million to 3.6 million, accounting for 32.5 percent of the total unemployed. By contrast,
the number of unemployed persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks decreased by 2.3 million to 2.6 million,
and the number of persons jobless 5 to 14 weeks decreased by 457,000 to 2.3 million. The number
of persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks was about unchanged at 2.5 million. (See table
The labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage point to 61.7 percent in October;
this is 1.7 percentage points below the February level. The employment-population ratio increased
by 0.8 percentage point to 57.4 percent in October but is 3.7 percentage points lower than in
February. (See table A-1.)
In October, the number of persons who usually work full time rose by 1.2 million to 123.6 million,
and the number who usually work part time increased by 1.0 million to 26.2 million. (See table
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 383,000 to 6.7 million
in October, after declines totaling 4.6 million over the prior 5 months. These individuals, who would
have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced
or they were unable to find full-time jobs. This group includes persons who usually work full
time and persons who usually work part time. (See table A-8.)
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job decreased by 539,000 to
6.7 million in October; this measure is 1.7 million higher than in February. These individuals
were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the last
4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job. (See table A-1.)
Among those not in the labor force who currently want a job, the number of persons marginally
attached to the labor force, at 2.0 million, was about unchanged in October. These individuals
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime
in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number
of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available
for them, was 588,000 in October, essentially unchanged from the previous month. (See Summary
Household Survey Supplemental Data
In October, 21.2 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down
from 22.7 percent in September. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at
home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically because of the pandemic.
In October, 15.1 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer
closed or lost business due to the pandemic–that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer
hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic. This measure is down from 19.4 million
in September. Among those who reported in October that they were unable to work because of pandemic-
related closures or lost business, 11.7 percent received at least some pay from their employer for
the hours not worked, up from 10.3 percent in September.
About 3.6 million persons not in the labor force in October were prevented from looking for work
due to the pandemic. This is down from 4.5 million in September. (To be counted as unemployed,
by definition, individuals must either be actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.)
These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey beginning in May to help
gauge the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. The data are not seasonally adjusted. Tables
with estimates from the supplemental questions for all months are available online at
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 638,000 in October and has increased for 6 consecutive
months. In October, nonfarm employment was below its February level by 10.1 million, or 6.6
percent. Notable job gains occurred over the month in leisure and hospitality, professional and
business services, retail trade, and construction. Employment in government declined. (See table
B-1. For more information about how the establishment survey and its measures were affected by
the coronavirus pandemic, see the box note at the end of this news release.)
Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 271,000 in October, with gains in food services
and drinking places (+192,000); arts, entertainment, and recreation (+44,000); and accommodation
(+34,000). Leisure and hospitality has added 4.8 million jobs since April, but employment in the
industry is down by 3.5 million since February.
Professional and business services added 208,000 jobs in October, with temporary help services
(+109,000) accounting for about half of the gain. Employment also increased in services to buildings
and dwellings (+19,000), computer systems design and related services (+16,000), and management
and technical consulting services (+15,000). Employment in professional and business services is
1.1 million below its February level.
In October, retail trade added 104,000 jobs, with almost one-third of the gain in electronics and
appliance stores (+31,000). Employment also rose in motor vehicle and parts dealers (+23,000),
furniture and home furnishings stores (+14,000), clothing and clothing accessories stores (+13,000),
general merchandise stores (+10,000), and nonstore retailers (+9,000). Employment in retail trade
has risen by 1.9 million since April but is 499,000 below its February level.
Construction added 84,000 jobs in October. Specialty trade contractors added jobs, both in the
nonresidential (+28,000) and residential (+18,000) components. Employment also rose in heavy and
civil engineering construction and in construction of buildings (+19,000 each). Construction has
added 789,000 jobs in the last 6 months, but employment is down by 294,000 since February.
Employment in health care and social assistance rose by 79,000 in October but is down by 950,000
since February. In October, health care employment increased by 58,000, with the largest gains
occurring in hospitals (+16,000), offices of physicians (+14,000), offices of dentists (+11,000),
and outpatient care centers (+10,000). These increases were partially offset by a decline of 9,000
in nursing and residential care facilities. Social assistance added 21,000 jobs over the month.
Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 63,000 in October, with gains occurring
in warehousing and storage (+28,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+25,000), and
truck transportation (+10,000). By contrast, air transportation shed 18,000 jobs. Employment in
transportation and warehousing is 271,000 below its February level.
The other services industry added 47,000 jobs in October, with gains occurring in personal and
laundry services (+27,000) and in repair and maintenance (+18,000). Employment in other services
is 436,000 below its February level.
Manufacturing employment rose by 38,000 in October but is 621,000 lower than in February. Gains
occurred in fabricated metal products (+7,000), primary metals (+6,000), and wood products
(+4,000). Employment continued to trend up in food manufacturing (+6,000) and in plastics and
rubber products (+4,000).
Employment in financial activities rose by 31,000 in October but is 129,000 lower than in February.
Over-the-month job gains occurred in finance and insurance (+17,000) and real estate (+10,000).
In October, government employment fell by 268,000. A decrease of 138,000 in federal government was
driven by a loss of 147,000 temporary 2020 Census workers. Job losses also occurred in local
government education and state government education (-98,000 and -61,000, respectively).
Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, and information, changed
little in October.
In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4
cents to $29.50. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees
rose by 5 cents to $24.82. The large employment fluctuations over the past several months–especially
in industries with lower-paid workers–complicate the analysis of recent trends in average hourly
earnings. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.8 hours in
October. In manufacturing, the workweek increased by 0.3 hour to 40.5 hours, and overtime rose by
0.2 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees increased
by 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up by 4,000 from +1,489,000
to +1,493,000, and the change for September was revised up by 11,000 from +661,000 to +672,000.
With these revisions, employment in August and September combined was 15,000 higher than previously
reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government
agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)
The Employment Situation for November is scheduled to be released on
Friday, December 4, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).
“Positive outlook predicts less memory decline”
We may wish some memories could last a lifetime, but many physical and emotional factors can negatively impact our ability to retain information throughout life.
A new study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people who feel enthusiastic and cheerful — what psychologists call “positive affect” — are less likely to experience memory decline as they age. This result adds to a growing body of research on positive affect’s role in healthy aging.
A team of researchers analyzed data from 991 middle-aged and older U.S. adults who participated in a national study conducted at three time periods: between 1995 and 1996, 2004 and 2006, and 2013 and 2014.
In each assessment, participants reported on a range of positive emotions they had experienced during the past 30 days. In the final two assessments, participants also completed tests of memory performance. These tests consisted of recalling words immediately after their presentation and again 15 minutes later.
The researchers examined the association between positive affect and memory decline, accounting for age, gender, education, depression, negative affect, and extraversion.
“Our findings showed that memory declined with age,” said Claudia Haase, an associate professor at Northwestern University and senior author on the paper. “However, individuals with higher levels of positive affect had a less steep memory decline over the course of almost a decade,” added Emily Hittner, a PhD graduate of Northwestern University and the paper’s lead author.
Areas of future research might address the pathways that could connect positive affect and memory, such as physical health or social relationships.
“Physicists circumvent centuries-old theory to cancel magnetic fields”
A team of scientists including two physicists at the University of Sussex has found a way to circumvent a 178-year old theory which means they can effectively cancel magnetic fields at a distance. They are the first to be able to do so in a way which has practical benefits.
The work is hoped to have a wide variety of applications. For example, patients with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s might in future receive a more accurate diagnosis. With the ability to cancel out ‘noisy’ external magnetic fields, doctors using magnetic field scanners will be able to see more accurately what is happening in the brain.
The study “Tailoring magnetic fields in inaccessible regions” is published in Physical Review Letters. It is an international collaboration between Dr Mark Bason and Jordi Prat-Camps at the University of Sussex, and Rosa Mach-Batlle and Nuria Del-Valle from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and other institutions.
“Earnshaw’s Theorem” from 1842 limits the ability to shape magnetic fields. The team were able to calculate an innovative way to circumvent this theory in order to effectively cancel other magnetic fields which can confuse readings in experiments.
In practical terms, they achieved this through creating a device comprised of a careful arrangement of electrical wires. This creates additional fields and so counteracts the effects of the unwanted magnetic field. Scientists have been struggling with this challenge for years but now the team has found a new strategy to deal with these problematic fields. While a similar effect has been achieved at much higher frequencies, this is the first time it has been achieved at low frequencies and static fields — such as biological frequencies — which will unlock a host of useful applications.
Other possible future applications for this work include:
- Quantum technology and quantum computing, in which ‘noise’ from exterior magnetic fields can affect experimental readings
- Neuroimaging, in which a technique called ‘transcranial magnetic stimulation’ activates different areas of the brain through magnetic fields. Using the techniques in this paper, doctors might be able to more carefully address areas of the brain needing stimulation.
- Biomedicine, to better control and manipulate nanorobots and magnetic nanoparticles that are moved inside a body by means of external magnetic fields. Potential applications for this development include improved drug delivery and magnetic hyperthermia therapies.
Dr Rosa Mach-Batlle, the lead author on the paper from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, said: “Starting from the fundamental question of whether it was possible or not to create a magnetic source at a distance, we came up with a strategy for controlling magnetism remotely that we believe could have a significant impact in technologies relying on the magnetic field distribution in inaccessible regions, such as inside of a human body.”
Dr Mark Bason from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex said: “We’ve discovered a way to circumvent Earnshaw’s theorem which many people didn’t imagine was possible. As a physicist, that’s pretty exciting. But it’s not just a theoretical exercise as our research might lead to some really important applications: more accurate diagnosis for Motor Neurone Disease patients in future, for example, better understanding of dementia in the brain, or speeding the development of quantum technology.”
“How the immune system remembers viruses”
When a virus enters the body, it is picked up by certain cells of the immune system. They transport the virus to the lymph nodes where they present its fragments, known as antigens, to CD8+ T cells responsible control of viral infections. Each of these cells carries a unique T cell receptor on the surface that can recognize certain antigens. However, only very few T cell receptors match a given viral the antigen.
To bring the infection under control and maximize the defenses against the virus, these few antigen-specific T cells start dividing rapidly and develop into effector T cells. These kill virus-infected host cells and then die off themselves once the infection is cleared. Some of these short-lived effector cells — according to the generally accepted theory — turn into memory T cells, which persist in the organism long term. In case the same pathogen enters the body again, memory T cells are already present and ready to fight the invader more swiftly and effectively than during the first encounter.
Memory cells and their origin
“Prevailing scientific opinion says that activated T cells first become effector cells and only then gradually develop into memory cells,” says Dr. Veit Buchholz, a specialist in microbiology and working group leader at the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene at TUM. “In our view, however, that isn’t the case. It would mean that the more effector cells are formed after contact with the pathogen, the more numerous the memory cells would become.” However, Buchholz and his colleagues observed a different course of events and have now published their results in the journal Nature Immunology.
“We investigated the antiviral immune responses resulting from individual activated T cells in mice and traced the lineage of the ensuing memory cells using single-cell fate mapping,” reports first author Dr. Simon Grassmann. “Based on these experiments, we were able to show that certain ‘T cell families’ descended from individual cells form up to 1000 times more ‘memory’ than others. However, these long-term dominating T cell families only contributed little to the magnitude of the initial immune response, which was dominated by effector cells derived from other shorter-lived T cell families.”
At the level of individual cells, it therefore became evident that development of effector and memory cells segregates at a much earlier stage than previously believed: “Already in the first week after the confrontation with the pathogen, we saw major differences in the transcriptomes of the detected T cell families,” says Lorenz Mihatsch, also a first author of the study. “Normally at this time of the immune response CD8+ T cells are enriched in molecules that help to kill virus infected cells. However, we found no indication of these cytolytic molecules in the long-term dominating T cell families. Instead, they were already geared exclusively towards memory development at this early stage.”
Optimization of vaccines
These results could help to improve vaccine development in the future, says Veit Buchholz: “To generate an optimal immune response through vaccination, the body needs to produce as many memory cells as possible. For that purpose, it is important to have a precise understanding of how individual T cells are programmed.” Buchholz’s study might also prove useful in helping to recognize sooner whether a new vaccine is effective. “To determine the long-term strength of an immune response, it could be helpful to measure the number of memory precursors within a few days of administering a vaccine,” says Buchholz.
“Blue-light glasses improve sleep and workday productivity, study finds”
During the pandemic, the amount of screen time for many people working and learning from home as well as binge-watching TV has sharply increased. New research finds that wearing blue-light glasses just before sleeping can lead to a better night’s sleep and contribute to a better day’s work to follow.
“We found that wearing blue-light-filtering glasses is an effective intervention to improve sleep, work engagement, task performance and organizational citizenship behavior, and reduced counterproductive work behavior,” said Cristiano L. Guarana, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. “Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses creates a form of physiologic darkness, thus improving both sleep quantity and quality.”
Most of the technology we commonly use — such as computer screens, smartphones and tablets — emits blue light, which past research has found can disrupt sleep. Workers have become more dependent on these devices, especially as we navigate remote work and school during the coronavirus pandemic.
The media have recently reported on the benefits of blue-light glasses for those spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen. This new research extends understanding of the circadian rhythm, a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.
“In general, the effects of wearing blue-light-filtering glasses were stronger for ‘night owls’ than for ‘morning larks,’ said Guarana, who previously has studied how lack of sleep affects business decisions, relationships and other behaviors in organizations. “Owls tend to have sleep periods later in the day, whereas larks tend to have sleep periods early in the day.
“Although most of us can benefit from reducing our exposure to blue light, owl employees seem to benefit more because they encounter greater misalignments between their internal clock and the externally controlled work time. Our model highlights how and when wearing blue-light-filtering glasses can help employees to live and work better.”
The findings appear in the paper, “The Effects of Blue-Light Filtration on Sleep and Work Outcomes,” published online by the Journal of Applied Psychology. Guarana is the corresponding author; his co-authors are Christopher Barnes and Wei Jee Ong of the University of Washington.
The research found that daily engagement and performance of tasks may be related to more underlying biological processes such as the circadian process.
“Our research pushes the chronotype literature to consider the relationship between the timing of circadian processes and employees’ performance,” the researchers wrote.
A good night’s sleep not only benefits workers; it also helps their employers’ bottom lines.
“This study provides evidence of a very cost-effective means of improving employee sleep and work outcomes, and the implied return on investment is gigantic,” said Barnes, professor of management and the Evert McCabe Endowed Fellow at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. “I personally do not know of any other interventions that would be that powerful at that low of a cost.”
Across two studies, researcher collected data from 63 company managers and 67 call center representatives at Brazil-based offices for a U.S. multinational financial firm and measured task performance from clients. Participants were randomly chosen to test glasses that filtered blue light or those that were placebo glasses.
“Employees are often required to work early mornings, which may lead to a misalignment between their internal clock and the externally controlled work time,” the researchers said, adding that their analyses showed a general pattern that blue-light filtration can have a cumulative effect on key performance variables, at least in the short term.
“Blue-light exposure should also be of concern to organizations,” Guarana said. “The ubiquity of the phenomenon suggests that control of blue-light exposure may be a viable first step for organizations to protect the circadian cycles of their employees from disruption.”
Researchers received no financial support or compensation for this research. The glasses were donated by the Austin, Texas-based company Swanwick.