August Job Picture Brightens

September 3, 2004 ( - US Labor Department (DoL) officials Friday painted a more upbeat picture of the domestic job scene with word that companies added 144,000 workers and that the June-July job creation was better than first thought.

In its monthly employment report, DoL said new non-farm jobs added in the June-July period totaled 313,000 – up a revised 59,000 (See  Job Market Tanks in July ). Also, DoL said the August unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% from 5.5% in July – the lowest rate since a matching 5.4% in October 2001.

DOL said there were job gains in health care and social assistance, financial activities, and professional and technical services. 

According to the DoL data, within the service-providing sector, health care and social assistance continued to add positions, with an increase of 42,000 in August.  Over the year, employment in this industry has risen by 307,000.  In August, employment rose in ambulatory health care services (11,000), which includes doctors’ offices and home health care services and in hospitals (8,000). Social assistance added 20,000 jobs.

Employment in financial activities increased by 18,000 in August, more than offsetting an employment decline in July.  Rental and leasing services added 7,000 jobs over the month, and securities, commodity contracts, and investments added 4,000.  Over the year, securities employment has increased by 32,000.
Professional and technical services added 22,000 jobs in August. Within this industry, employment rose in computer systems design and related services (9,000); year to date, computer systems design has added 36,000 jobs.  
Employment in the information industry continued to trend down in telecommunications.  Since its most recent peak in March 2001, the telecommunications industry has lost 293,000 jobs, or 22% of its total.
In the goods-producing sector, employment in manufacturing edged up (22,000) in August.  Employment in transportation equipment rebounded (28,000) from a July loss, but this increase mostly reflected auto workers returning to work from the larger-than-usual annual retooling shutdowns in July. 

The August job gain came in slightly below Wall Street analysts’ forecasts for a 150,000-job advance.