Job Growth Modest, Unemployment Down in August

September 1, 2006 ( - Non-farm payroll employment increased by 128,000 jobs in August, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Reuters reports the modest increase was in line with economists’ expectations. BLS data also showed the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%, after moving up to 4.8% in July.

In August, education and health services showed a gain of 60,000 jobs. Health care employment rose by 35,000, with hospitals adding 14,000 jobs and employment increasing in doctors’ offices, home health care and outpatient care centers. Employment in social assistance grew by 13,000 over the month, according to a BLS press release, which noted about half of the increase occurred in child day care services.

Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 16,000 in August. For the year, food services has added 217,000 jobs.

Employment in financial activities edged up in August, with professional and business services employment up in August by 26,000 – a modest increase compared to the prior 3 months, when job gains averaged 52,000 in the industry.

Over the month, employment in wholesale trade changed little. Within retail trade, department stores lost 9,000 jobs and gasoline stations lost 5,000. Since its most recent peak in August 2005, employment in retail trade has declined by 101,000.

In the goods-producing sector, mining added 5,000 jobs in August, with gains in oil and gas extraction and in related support activities.

Within manufacturing, job losses occurred in motor vehicles and parts, falling by 7,000, wood products lost 5,000, furniture and related products went down by 4,000, and paper and paper products went down by 3,000. Since June 2006, manufacturing employment has declined by 34,000.

BLS noted that it will discontinue questions about Hurricane Katrina evacuees in its household survey after October 2006.