The nation’s unemployment level continued to fall sharply from its April pandemic peak, clocking in at 6.9 percent in October, according to the Employment Situation report for October from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“September’s national unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, and expectations were for a further decline of just a couple of tenths of a percent going into October,” John Anderson said. “The unemployment rate actually declined by a full percentage point in October and now stands at 6.9 percent.

“While the unemployment rate remains high relative to its pre-pandemic level, which hit a remarkable low of 3.5 percent in February 2020, it is down sharply from the post-war record levels posted during the pandemic lockdowns,” he said.

Anderson is an agricultural economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and head of the Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Department for the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences. Anderson has been providing analysis of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. economy.

The largest gains were in the services sector. Employment in this sector grew by 783,000 jobs in October, a slightly slower expansion than the 795,000 recorded in September. 

“Food service jobs increased by almost 200,000 – the largest gain of any individual sector reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” he said. “This confirms the ongoing recovery in this particularly hard-hit sector of the economy; but food service employment remains about 2 million jobs below last year’s level.”

Job gains in the goods-producing sector were higher in October than in either September or August, largely on the strength of gains in the construction sector. Government employment continued to contract in October, declining by 268,000 jobs and partially offsetting the relatively strong growth in private sector jobs. Government employment contracted at every level: federal, state, and local.

See Anderson’s analysis at

Find other COVID-related economic analyses at

To learn more about extension and research programs in Arkansas, visit 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

Recommended for you