The US Department of Labor (DoL) said the economy added 169,000 new non-farm positions in August, a bit shy of the predicted 190,000 jobs anticipated by economists, according to Reuters.
The latest report had two pieces of significantly positive news: June and July job growth turned out to be stronger than first thought, leading to 44,000 new jobs being added to their tally, and the nation’s unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since August 2001 at 4.9%. Analysts had called for the rate to hold steady at 5%.
The DoL said Hurricane Katrina did not impact the August job tally, since it crossed Florida and hit the Gulf Coast after the government had surveyed employers.
According to the DoL data, manufacturing employment edged down in August and has declined by 10,000 over the year. Motor vehicles and parts manufacturers shed 8,000 jobs in August; since May, employment has declined by 37,000. This industry has accounted for nearly half of all jobs lost in manufacturing over the year.
In August, the long-term employment declines continued in textile mills and apparel, the DoL said. These industries have lost 46,000 jobs over the year. Mining employment continued to trend upward over the month; since its most recent low in April 2003, the industry has added 67,000 jobs. Support activities for oil and gas operations have accounted for much of the increase.
In the service sector, employment in health care increased by 26,000 in August. Ambulatory health care services (which includes doctors’ offices and outpatient clinics) and hospitals added 16,000 and 10,000 jobs, respectively. Food services employment continued to grow; this industry added 18,000 jobs in August and 280,000 over the year. Employment in accommodations edged up over the month.
Meanwhile, employment in financial activities continued to trend up in August (15,000), reflecting small gains in many component industries. Professional and business services employment also continued to trend upward in August (29,000). This industry has added 507,000 jobs over the year. Temporary help services employment was about unchanged in August. Job growth in this industry has slowed since last fall.
Finally, retail trade employment was little changed in August, following a large gain of 58,000 in July. Over the year, the industry has added 224,000 jobs. Wholesale trade employment continued its upward trend in August; this industry has added 150,000 jobs since its most recent trough in August 2003.