Unemployment Rate Rises
Although still strong, the pace of jobs growth slowed in August, with 315,000 new jobs. Figures for June and July were adjusted downward to account for a combined 107,000 fewer reported gains.
The biggest gains were recorded in the professional and business services, healthcare, and retail sectors.
Despite its return to a pre-pandemic rate of 3.5% in July, the unemployment rate notched up again by two-tenths of a percentage point in August, reaching 3.7%. There were six million people unemployed in August.
Average hourly earnings continued to trend up, with an increase of 0.3% in August, sustaining the annual average hourly increase of 5.2%.
The average work week broke a five-month trend, dropping slightly to 34.5 hours.
Temporary Job Trends
The temporary help sector continued trending positive, with 11,600 new jobs in August, following readjustments to 6,500 in June and 8,500 in July.
What Does It All Mean?
August continued a trend of strong jobs growth, albeit at a slower pace than recent months. Economists hail the latest results positively, however, noting any slackening in the pace of growth as easing inflation pressure. Likewise, the rise in the unemployment rate is positive rather than negative, because it means more people working or looking for work, a move that gave an upward nudge to the workforce participation rate, which moved from 62.1% to 62.4%. Any easing of supply bottlenecks could flow into slower wage growth, positively impacting inflation.
No matter in what direction the economy is currently moving, the BLS reports the ratio of jobs to workers at 2:1. This starkly underscores the continuing challenges employers face in attracting talent. It fuels an environment characterized by fierce competition for talent that is ripe for innovation in securing the best.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Bloomberg, The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, CNBC, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, The Washington Post, Reuters