U.S. unemployment ticks up slightly

Written on Sep 08, 2017

The national unemployment rate increased to 4.4% in August, up from 4.3% in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 156,000 in August, with job gains occurring in manufacturing, construction, health care, mining and professional and technical services, BLS said in a news release.

Employment growth has averaged 176,000 per month thus far this year, compared to the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016, according to BLS.

Manufacturing employment rose by 36,000 in August. Job gains occurred in motor vehicles and parts (+14,000), fabricated metal products (+5,000) and computer and electronic products (+4,000). Manufacturing has added 155,000 jobs since a recent employment low in November 2016. 

In August, construction employment rose by 28,000, after showing little change over the prior five months. Employment among residential specialty trade contractors edged up by 12,000 over the month. 

Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in August (+22,000) and has grown by 262,000 over the last 12 months. In August, job gains occurred in computer systems design and related services (+8,000). 

Health care employment continued on an upward trend over the month (+20,000) and has risen by 328,000 over the year. Employment in hospitals edged up over the month (+6,000).

Mining continued to add jobs in August (+7,000), with all of the growth in support activities for mining. Since a recent low in October 2016, employment in mining has risen by 62,000, or 10%. 

Employment in food services and drinking places ticked up in August (+9,000), following an increase of 53,000 in July. Over the year, the industry has added 283,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little change over the month.

The change in total non-farm payroll employment for June was revised down from +231,000 to +210,000, and the change for July was revised down from +209,000 to +189,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 41,000 less than previously reported, BLS said. After revisions, job gains have averaged 185,000 per month over the past three months.

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

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