Home Combined Employment in August sharply below expectations, though unemployment rate ticks down

Employment in August sharply below expectations, though unemployment rate ticks down

The national number of nonfarm jobs added in August was sharply below the 900,000 or so that had been forecast, coming in at only 235,000 — less than half of the average monthly job growth of 586,000 that has been seen this year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today that overall there were 8.4 million people in the unemployed category, representing an unemployment rate of 5.2% in August, down 0.2% from where it had been in July.

Among the major worker groups, the 5.1% unemployment rate for adult men and 4.5% for Whites declined in August, while the rate for teenagers went up to 11.2%. The jobless rates for adult women stood at 4.8%. For Blacks, the unemployment rate was 4.8%, for Asians 4.6% and for Hispanics 6.4%.

The number of people on temporary layoff was 1.3 million, essentially unchanged from July. Temporary layoffs hit a peak of 18 million in April of last year, according to the BLS.

In August, the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons stood at 4.5 million, and was essentially unchanged from the 4.4 million who had been employed part-time in February 2020. People in that category would like to have been working full-time but were working part-time because their hours had been cut or they were unable to find full-time employment.

The BLS found that in August, 13.4% of employed people were working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic, about the same as in July. In August, 5.6 million people reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. In July, the figure had been 5.2 million.

The BLS said that in August, there were job gains in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other services. Employment in the retail trade declined over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 17 cents to $30.73 in August; average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 14 cents to $25.99.

In August, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 34.7 hours for the third consecutive month.

In manufacturing, the average workweek fell by 0.2 hours over the month to 40.3 hours, and overtime remained at 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.2 hours.

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