Job Growth Moderates in August as Low Unemployment Continues 

JOB GROWTH: The employment market continued to show steady though slightly slower growth in August when compared to July, adding 156,000 new positions. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 185,000 per month, right in line with

the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016.

TOP INDUSTRIES: August offered a brightened outlook for blue-collar employment, with gains in manufacturing, construction and mining, in addition to continued forward momentum in professional and technical services and health care.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate continued steadily along a track it has maintained for several months now, shifting marginally from month to month. The August rate was slightly higher at 4.4 percent than July’s rate of 4.3 percent. In the good news department, unemployment for those with less than a high school diploma retreated by almost one full percentage point.

WAGES: Payrolls exhibited little movement in August, gaining an average increase of three cents per hour, sustaining an annual average hourly increase of 2.5 percent.

WORK WEEK: The average work week was little changed, moving slightly downward to 34.4 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: For the fifth consecutive month, temporary job penetration exceeded three million jobs, although job gains in the sector were flat.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Continuing job growth and high employment should point to a strengthening economy and greater optimism from business. And to some extent, it does. However, there is still a significant gap between job openings and job fills, to the tune of three times as many openings as filled positions. That shortfall not only makes it exceedingly difficult for employers to find the people they need, it increases pressure on employers to raise starting salaries, hire more younger workers so they can gain critical employment experience and step up training initiatives to help bridge the skills gap.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, NBC News, The New York Times, Business Insider, U.S. News & World Report, Market Watch