August has continuously undershot expectations by the most of any month on average over the last 13 years and this year has proved no different with a mere 151,000 job gains. The unemployment rate was unchanged for the third month in a row at 4.9 percent and the number of unemployed persons held steady at 7.8 million or 9.7 percent – both showing little movement over the year. Average hourly earnings in August rose by an additional 3 cents to $25.73.
Employment in restaurants and bars continued to trend upward with an additional 34,000 jobs. Social assistance added 22,000 positions, with most of the growth in individual and family services. Employment in professional and technical services grew by 20,000 and financial activities edged up by 15,000. Health care also contributed 14,000 jobs in August, though at a slower pace than the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Since peaking in September 2014, employment in mining has declined by 223,000, with an additional loss of 4,000 positions in August.
Employment in several other industries – including constructions, manufacturing, wholes trade, retail and information, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government – showed little change over the month.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) accounted for 26.1 percent of the unemployed population and remained unchanged at 2.0 million. Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7 percent, were also unchanged in August.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down from +292,000 to +271,000, and the numbers for July were revised up from +255,000 to +275,000, combined job gains were 1,000 less than previously reported.
Job numbers are being watched closely by the Federal Reserve as they prepare to meet this month to discuss the possibility of a rate increase which is appropriate when the economy shows a solid and continual improvement. Many feel the August numbers still show economic growth but the jobs report likely decreases the probability of a rate hike for right now.