With the creation in August of 187,000 jobs, what initially looked like a repeat of July activity is actually an improvement due to a downward adjustment of 30,000 for July. Following recent revisions for prior months, August caps a three-month trend of steady upward movement in job creation, albeit the lowest level of activity in at least two years.
Employment activity was the most robust in healthcare, leisure and hospitality, social assistance, and construction. The biggest decline was recorded in transportation and warehousing, primarily linked to a business closure.
The unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% in July to 3.8% in August, reaching its highest rate in 18 months.
Average hourly earnings continued to rise but at a slower pace in August, with an eight-cent per hour rise, dropping the 12-month average to a still-healthy 4.3%.
The average work week for August increased slightly to 34.4 hours.
The temp sector continued to shed jobs in August, down by 19,000 over the previous month.
The August jobs report indicates a labor market that remains strong, even as it slows its forward momentum. Industry continues to create new jobs, rising compensation offers strong incentives, and hiring activity is brisk.
The outlook for job candidates is bright, with 1.5 positions available for every worker. Nearly three-quarters of a million more people have recently entered the labor market, which should ease the strain on filling the 8.8 million open jobs in the economy. However, successfully matching worker skills and experience to business needs remains a challenge for employers.
Recruiting efforts can be boosted through the use of innovative technology to deliver a faster, more efficient process for employers and an easier, more convenient experience for job seekers. Understanding the job market and the potential every worker represents for growth remains the strongest source of competitive advantage for employers.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNBC, CNN, Staffing Industry Analysts, USA Today, Bloomberg, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, Washington Examiner, FOX Business