U.S. employers added a net 156,000 jobs in August

WASHINGTON, D.C.
September 1, 2017 6:01am
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•  Unemployment rate little changed

•  Job gains have averaged 185,000 per month over the past 3 months


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 156,000 in August, but the nation’s unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Friday.

Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care, and mining. But the August figures trailed employment performance in July and June, according to the data.

Household Survey Data

In August, the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, were little changed. After declining earlier in the year, the unemployment rate has been either 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April.

Hurricane Harvey had no discernable effect on the employment and unemployment data for August. Household survey data collection was completed before the storm. Establishment survey data collection was largely completed prior to the storm, and collection rates were within normal ranges nationally and for the affected areas.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.1 percent), adult women (4.0 percent), teenagers (13.6 percent), Whites (3.9 percent), Blacks (7.7 percent), Asians (4.0 percent), and Hispanics (5.2 percent) showed little or no change in August.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged in August at 1.7 million and accounted for 24.7 percent of the unemployed.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, was unchanged in August and has shown little movement on net over the past year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, was little changed over the month and thus far this year.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 5.3 million in August and has shown little movement in recent months. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In August, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) 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. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 448,000 discouraged workers in August, down 128,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 156,000 in August. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care, and mining. Employment growth has averaged 176,000 per month thus far this year, about in line with the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016.

Manufacturing employment rose by 36,000 in August. Job gains occurred in motor vehicles and parts (+14,000), fabricated metal products (+5,000), and computer and electronic products (+4,000). Manufacturing has added 155,000 jobs since a recent employment low in November 2016.

In August, construction employment rose by 28,000, after showing little change over the prior 5 months. Employment among residential specialty trade contractors edged up by 12,000 over the month.

Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in August (+22,000) and has grown by 262,000 over the last 12 months. In August, job gains occurred in computer systems design and related services (+8,000).

Health care employment continued on an upward trend over the month (+20,000) and has risen by 328,000 over the year. Employment in hospitals edged up over the month (+6,000).

Mining continued to add jobs in August (+7,000), with all of the growth in support activities for mining. Since a recent low in October 2016, employment in mining has risen by 62,000, or 10 percent.

Employment in food services and drinking places changed little in August (+9,000), following an increase of 53,000 in July. Over the year, the industry has added 283,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in August. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 0.2 hour to 40.7 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 33.7 hours for the fifth consecutive month.

In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents to $26.39, after rising by 9 cents in July. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent. In August, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $22.12.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down from +231,000 to +210,000, and the change for July was revised down from +209,000 to +189,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 41,000 less 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.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 185,000 per month over the past 3 months.


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