Unemployment Does A Surprise Dip, But..

September 6, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The US unemployment rate dipped to a five-month low in August at 5.7%, but the domestic job-making machine is apparently still largely moribund, government figures show.

US Department of Labor (DoL) statistics showed August figures down from July’s 5.9% and at the lowest level since March’s 5.7% performance.  It was also better than the anticipated flat reading of 5.9% from the prior month.

Cloud Cover?

However, those looking for the cloud in the silver lining found it in some disquieting payroll trends accompanying the report.  The number of workers on American payrolls rose by 39,000 in August.  While that was more than the 37,000 increase anticipated by many analysts, it came almost entirely from 41,000 new government jobs – many for airport security functions.  Even that pace was regarded as too slow by half compared with the 100,000 to 150,000 jobs that economists say are needed to rouse the stagnant economy, according to Reuters.

On a more positive note, average hourly earnings rose 0.3% to $14.82 after a 0.2% increase in July, as the average workweek expanded to 34.1 hours from 34.0 hours the prior month.