August Jobs Number Misses Expectations

September 2, 2016 8:30 AM EDT

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  • Change in Nonfarm Payrolls 151K vs 180K Expected; UE Rate 4.9% vs 4.8% Expected

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in August, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in several service-providing industries.

Household Survey Data

The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 7.8 million in August, and the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent for the third month in a row. Both measures have shown little movement over the year, on net. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5 percent), adult women (4.5 percent),teenagers (15.7 percent), Whites (4.4 percent), Blacks (8.1 percent), Asians (4.2percent), and Hispanics (5.6 percent) showed little change in August. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.0 million in August. These individuals accounted for 26.1 percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7 percent, were unchanged in August. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.1 million in August. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In August, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 576,000 discouraged workers in August, little different from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 151,000 in August, compared with an average monthly gain of 204,000 over the prior 12 months. Employment continued to trend up in several service-providing industries. (See table B-1.)

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up over the month (+34,000). Over the year, the industry has added 312,000 jobs. Social assistance added 22,000 jobs over the month, with most of the growth in individual and family services (+17,000).

In August, employment in professional and technical services edged up (+20,000), about in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months (+24,000).

Financial activities employment continued on an upward trend in August (+15,000), with a gain in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+6,000). Over the year, financial activities has added 167,000 jobs.

Health care employment continued to trend up in August (+14,000), but at a slower pace than the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months (+39,000).

In August, hospitals added 11,000 jobs, and employment in ambulatory health care services trended up (+13,000). A job loss in nursing and residential care facilities (-9,000) offset a gain in July.

Employment in mining continued to trend down in August (-4,000). Since reaching a peak in September 2014, employment in mining has declined by 223,000, with losses concentrated in support activities for mining.

Employment in several other industries--including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government--changed little over the month.

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. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In August, 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. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down from +292,000 to +271,000, and the change for July was revised up from +255,000 to +275,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 1,000 less than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 232,000 per month.

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Change from:

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population


Civilian labor force


Participation rate




Employment-population ratio




Unemployment rate

Not in labor force


Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

Adult men (20 years and over)

Adult women (20 years and over)

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)



Black or African American


Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

Total, 25 years and over

Less than a high school diploma

High school graduates, no college

Some college or associate degree

Bachelor's degree and higher

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs


Job leavers




New entrants


Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks


5 to 14 weeks


15 to 26 weeks


27 weeks and over


Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons


Slack work or business conditions


Could only find part-time work


Part time for noneconomic reasons


Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force


Discouraged workers


- Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

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