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Jobs Report: 151,000 Jobs Added in August, Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 4.9 Percent

Topics: Current Events
Prior to this morning’s release of the monthly Employment Situation Summary, economists polled by Reuters predicted the addition of 180,000 jobs, and unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. The actual numbers were a bit more subdued.
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Image Credit: brownpau/Flickr

“Job growth in August was respectable though not spectacular,” says Harry Holzer, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor and author of Where Are All the Good Jobs Going?, in a statement. “151,000 jobs were created, a bit under economist expectations (170-180,000). It was, of course, very unlikely that the labor market would continue to show the job creation strength seen in June and July—when job growth was about 270,000 in each month. The average gain over the past 3 months remains a very solid 232,000.”

The number of unemployed (7.8 million) was essentially unchanged last month, as was the number of long-term unemployed (2 million), those employed part-time for economic reasons (6.1 million), and the labor-force participation rate (62.8 percent).

Employment gains were centered in service-providing industries, including food service and drinking places (+34,000 jobs), social assistance (+22,000 jobs), professional and technical services (+20,000 jobs), and financial activities (+15,000 jobs). Healthcare added 14,000 jobs, less than half the average monthly gain over the past year.

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On the goods-producing side, mining continued its decline, shedding 4,000 jobs in August.

Other industries were largely unchanged, including manufacturing, construction, retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government.

The average workweek for employees on private payrolls declined last month by 0.1 hour to 34.3 hours, while average hourly earnings increased by 3 cents to $25.73.

“Wage growth was also a bit subdued this month, averaging 1.4% on an annual basis, and weekly earnings declined a bit (because average hours worked declined just a bit as well),” Holzer said. “But for nonsupervisory employees, the hourly wage gain was 2.2% on annual basis, not far from the 2.4% average seen over the past year.”

The PayScale Index, which measures the change in pay for employed U.S. workers, forecasts 1.6 percent year-over-year growth for Q3 2016.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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