Early Friday morning the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the American economy had added 169,000 jobs in August and that the unemployment rate remained steady at 7.3%. Additionally the DOL revised job gains in June and July downwards a total of 74,000 jobs; making the overall job gain implied by the September 6th report just 95,000 jobs.
As is to be expected with growth losses such as that, the substantive data behind these numbers isn’t much more encouraging.
The labor force participation rate, which is made up of the percentage of working-age Americans who are actively in the labor force, fell to 63.2%– the lowest since 1978. And although the average pace of job growth over the past year has been fairly healthy, stagnant wages and low labor force participation demonstrate weakness in the labor market overall.
The report wasn’t all bad though, with some bright spots shining through. Specifically, total government employment increased by 17,000 jobs last month; since federal stimulus money began to dry up in 2010 and 2011, government employment has seen a steady decline, especially at the state and local levels. If the trend continues to climb upward, the increase in government employment could serve as a positive indicator that the government sector is no longer bleeding itself dry.
The outlook remains bleak though, and many sources see significant obstacles in the path of further economic recovery, including a slow acting Congress, and an upcoming showdown over the debt ceiling.
See what Time’s Business & Money section has to say about the August jobs report here.