Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 17,000 and overall payroll employment was flat in August. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent, a level that remains unacceptably high. Despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 18 straight months, for a total of 2.4 million jobs over that period.
Clearly, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. Today’s report underscores the President’s call for Congress to pass a clean extension of the transportation bill to keep workers on the job and keep critical highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit and other important projects moving forward. Next week, the President will lay out a series of additional bipartisan steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the paychecks of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.
Sectors with employment increases in August included health care and social assistance (+35,500) and professional and business services (+28,000). Sectors with employment declines included information (-48,000, which includes striking Verizon workers), construction (-5,000), and manufacturing (-3,000). Local government lost 20,000 jobs and has shed 398,000 jobs since February 2010. State government added 5,000 jobs as an estimated 22,000 furloughed Minnesota state workers returned to work.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.