US Job Growth Slows, Unemployment Rises in August

Erick Barnes
Posted: 09/01/2017

TAMPA, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Summary today, and the numbers for August are lower than expected.

156,000 jobs were added in August, which is lower than the 170,000 to 180,000 most analysts had predicted. Also, the past two months were adjusted lower for a loss of 41,000 jobs from prior reports. This report, however, remains within the range of what the trend in job growth has been for the past 12 months. Overall, hiring in 2017 has averaged 176,000 a month, similar to 2016's average.

Wages also continued to rise at the same mediocre pace, with average hourly earnings up 2.5% from a year ago.

“That reflects, to some extent, the people coming back (to work). The people not working who want to work, they often are willing to work for lower wages. That holds down wage growth overall,” said Julia Coronado, President and Founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives, on NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report. “For the better part of the last three years, we’ve been running at 2.5% wage growth.

“That’s not particularly strong,” she noted, “but that also means that the Federal Reserve doesn’t need to be aggressive and slam on the brakes to slow down the economy. They can let the economy run a little bit, and allow the labor market to continue bringing people back.”

Before the report was released, economists had cautioned against becoming overly concerned if it registered only modest job growth. The final numbers were uninspiring, but not extremely surprising. The New York Times noted that August has historically been soft for job creation, with the data coming in below expectations in four of the last five years.

The DOL’s summary report included information about the lack of effect Hurricane Harvey had on the data for August:

“Hurricane Harvey had no discernable effect on the employment and unemployment data for August. Household survey data collection was completed before the storm. Establishment survey data collection for this news release was largely completed prior to the storm, and collection rates were within normal ranges nationally and for the affected areas.”

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Erick Barnes
Posted: 09/01/2017