U.S. Job Additions Slow in August
U.S. employers continued to add jobs in August, but at a more reserved pace than earlier in the year.
Roughly 315,000 employees were added to payrolls in August 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That was one of the smallest monthly gains the nation has recorded since April 2021 but was at least ahead of economists’ expectations.
Downward revisions to June and July combined showed 107,000 fewer jobs were added in those months than previously reported. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate inched up to 3.7% in August, up 20 basis points from the July showing.
Jobs by Industry
The jobs recovery in August was widespread with service-providing industries adding 263,000 jobs, while the goods-producing industries added 45,000 for the month. Notable job gains occurred in Education and Health Services and Professional and Business Services (+68,000 each) and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+65,000). No major industries recorded job losses between July and August.
The Education and Health Services industry’s monthly gain of 68,000 jobs was largely in the health care and social assistance sector (+61,500), with much of that gain in health care (+48,200). The social assistance subsector added 13,300 jobs. Meanwhile, the educational services sector added just 6,400 jobs in August. Total employment in Education and Health Services is still 54,000 jobs, or 0.2%, lower than in February 2020.
• The Professional and Business Services industry also gained 68,000 jobs in August with most of those in the professional and technical services sector (+40,900). The lower-paying administrative and waste services sector added 28,700 jobs, with the temporary help services subsector accounting for 11,600 of those jobs. As of August, Professional and Business Services had nearly 1.1 million more jobs than in February 2020.
• The Trade, Transportation and Utilities industry posted a net gain of 65,000 jobs in August with notable gains in retail trade (+44,000). Wholesale trade added 15,100 jobs for the month, with durable goods accounting for 7,900 positions. Utilities was up just 600 jobs for the month. Overall employment in Trade, Transportation and Utilities is 1 million jobs, or 3.6%, above the February 2020 level.
• Among the Leisure and Hospitality industry’s monthly gain of 31,000 jobs, most were in the food services and drinking places (+18,200) subsector. The arts, entertainment and recreation sector added 8,400 jobs for the month, with sizable gains in the amusements, gambling and recreation subsector (+9,300) counteracted with a loss of 3,000 jobs in the performing arts and spectator sports subsector. Despite recent gains, the Leisure and Hospitality Services employment in this sector is still below its pre-pandemic employment count by 1.2 million workers.
• The Manufacturing industry posted a net gain of 22,000 jobs in August, with durable goods adding 19,000 jobs and nondurable goods adding just 3,000 jobs. Among durable goods manufacturing, job gains were mainly in fabricated metal products (+4,700) and computer and electronic products (+4,3500). Job gains in nondurable goods manufacturing were mainly in chemicals (+3,500). Employment in Manufacturing overall is now 67,000 jobs, or 0.5%, above the February 2020 level.
• The Financial Activities industry added 17,000 jobs in August with the insurance carriers and related activities subsector adding 5,400 jobs and the securities, commodity contracts, investments, and funds and trusts subsector adding 3,500 positions. The Financial Activities industry overall is 111,000 jobs, or 1.3%, above February 2020 levels.
• The Construction industry added 16,000 jobs in August with a gain of 14,200 jobs in the specialty trade contractors sector. The construction of buildings sector added 3,000 jobs during the month. Construction employment is up by 84,000 jobs, or 1.1%, compared to February 2020 levels.
• The Government sector gained 7,000 jobs in August. Most of that net job gain was in Local Government jobs (+6,000). The State Government sector added 3,000 jobs for the month, while Federal Government logged mild job losses (-2,000). Overall, the Government sector is still about 645,000 jobs, or 2.8%, below the February 2020 level.
• The Other Services sector also added 7,000 jobs in August. The largest contribution to that total was from the membership associations and organizations subsector, which added 3,300 jobs. Despite recent job gains, the Other Services sector remains 246,000 jobs, or 4.1%, below the February 2020 level.
• The Information industry added 7,000 jobs in August, with the majority of those gains in the publishing industries, except Internet subsector, which added 3,600 jobs. The Information industry is 129,000 jobs, or 4.4%, above February 2020 levels.
• The Mining and Logging industry also gained roughly 7,000 jobs in August, with most of that net gain in Mining (+6,400). Logging gained just 200 jobs during the month. As of August, the Mining and Logging industry is still 45,000 jobs, or 6.6%, below the February 2020 employment level.
The unemployment rate (U3 or headline unemployment rate) in August ticked up 20 basis points to 3.7%, still one of the lowest levels since 1969. The unemployment rate has not fallen below 3% since 1953.
As of July, the number of unemployed persons edged down to roughly 6 million.
The unemployment rate for adult men decreased 30 bps from July to 3.5% in August, while the unemployment rate for adult women increased 20 bps to 3.3%. The unemployment rate for teenagers declined 90 bps from July to 10.4% in August.
Across most major industries, unadjusted unemployment rates increased or were essentially unchanged from July to August. The biggest increase was in Mining, which was up 180 bps to 2.6%. the unemployment rate in Leisure/Hospitality Services was up 130 bps to 6.1% in August. On the other hand, unemployment declined in three industries – Government, Wholesale and Retail Trade and Education and Health Services.
The highest industry unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) in August were in Leisure and Hospitality Services (6.1%), Transportation and Utilities (4.3%) and Construction (3.9%). The lowest unemployment rates were in the Financial Activities (1.8%), Mining (2.6%) and Government (2.8%) sectors.
The number of unemployed persons that quit or voluntarily left their previous job to begin looking for new employment increased from 842,000 in July to 898,000 in August. The number of unemployed for 27 weeks or longer increased from 1.07 million in July to 1.14 million in August and accounted for 18.8% of all unemployed persons. The number of those working part-time that would prefer to work full-time increased from 3.9 million in July to about 4.1 million in August, while the number of workers who prefer part-time positions eased to around 21 million.
The U6 unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted), which includes part-timers for economic reasons and marginally attached workers was increased to 7% in August but was down 8.9% from a year earlier.
Labor Force Participation
The civilian labor force participation rate increased 30 basis points (bps), moving from 62.1% in July 2022 to 62.4% in August 2022. That recent rate is still below pre-pandemic levels which averaged 63.1% in 2019. The employment-population ratio increased, rising from 60% in July to 60.1% in August.
Average Hourly Earnings
Average hourly earnings among employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose $0.10 from July to August. That monthly increase took average hourly earnings to $32.36 in August. On an annual basis, average hourly earnings were up $1.60, a 5.2% increase year-over-year. However, wages were outstripped by inflation, as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 9.1% in the year-ending June.
Industry wage growth varied greatly. Leisure and Hospitality Services average hourly wages jumped 8.6% year-over-year in August, as competition for restaurant and other service workers has had a dramatic effect on wage growth. Information workers enjoyed a 6% annual increase in hourly wages, while growth in Education and Health Services (5.9%) was not far behind. On the other hand, the smallest annual increase in hourly wages was seen among Other Services employees (2.5%).
The percentage of workers that telework fell recently as many companies have already welcomed workers back into the office. August’s teleworking rate of 6.5% was well below the 35.4% rate recorded in May 2020, according to the BLS’s supplemental data measuring the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market. The metric does not include employees who worked from home prior to the pandemic. The rate of teleworking will likely continue to remain elevated compared to historical norms as employers discover that remote working can act as a hiring and retention inducement that boosts employee morale while productivity remains close to previous levels.