Employers Add 151,000 Jobs in August


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday; the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent.

BLS revised June and July’s strong employment reports. For June, BLS revised employment from +292,000 to +271,000; July’s numbers revised up from +255,000 to +275,000. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 232,000 per month.

The report said the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 7.8 million in August; the unemployment rate has held steady at 4.9 percent for the third consecutive month in a row. Both measures have shown little movement over the year, on net.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged at 2.0 million in August. These individuals accounted for 26.1 percent of the unemployed. Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7 percent, were unchanged in August.

Financial activities employment continued on an upward trend in August (+15,000), with gains in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+6,000). Over the year, financial activities has added 167,000 jobs.John Silvia, chief economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said the numbers reflected a “good report” that was unlikely to prompt the Federal Reserve to make a move on interest rates before December.

“The consumer remains the driver of economic growth,” Silvia said. “While today’s 151,000 print provides further evidence that job growth has lost some steam this year, it should be viewed against the longer-term structural headwinds facing the labor market. The labor supply is growing less quickly than prior cycles as population growth has slowed and an aging workforce has reduced labor force participation. “

Silvia said the report reduces the likelihood that the Federal Open Market Committee will raise rates in September, “but the labor market remains strong enough to support a rate hike in December.”

The report said the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.3 hours in August. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 0.2 hour to 40.6 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.

BLS said average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents to $25.73. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.4 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $21.64 in August.