September 1, 2017

August 2017 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent

Jobs Created: 156,000

Employment and Unemployment

  1. The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent for August, up 0.1 percent from last month, remaining near the lowest unemployment rate (4.3 percent) in 16 years. 

  2. Today’s jobs report shows an increase of 156,000 nonfarm jobs in August, lower than analysts’ prediction of job growth of 179,000. Employment for June was revised down from 231,000 to 210,000, and July was revised down from 209,000 to 189,000 jobs created. Of note, today’s jobs report does not reflect the impact of Hurricane Harvey as the data was collected prior to the storm. 

  3. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, August payrolls have consistently undershot expectations in recent years due in part to the challenges of measuring the back-to-school period, lower initial response rates, and many people being on vacation and not making new hires.

  4. Unemployment in August among those ages 16-19 was 13.6 percent, up 0.4 percent from last month. For people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, up from 5.1 percent in July. For African-Americans, the unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, up from 7.4 percent in July.

  5. The number of long-term unemployed, those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was 1.7 million, down from 1.8 million last month. They account for 24.7 percent of the unemployed, down from 25.9 percent in the prior month.

  6. The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 8.6 percent, unchanged from last month. The U-6 figure represents the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers. 

  7. The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 13.9 million. These are people who are unemployed (7.1 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (1.5 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full-time employment (5.3 million).  

  8. In August, employment grew by 36,000 in manufacturing; 28,000 in construction; 22,000 in professional and technical services; 20,000 in health care; and 7,000 in mining. Government lost 9,000 jobs last month – 1,000 at the federal level, 5,000 at the state level, and 3,000 at the local level.   

  9. Following its most recent meeting in July, the Federal Reserve issued a statement saying: “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising moderately so far this year. Job gains have been solid, on average, since the beginning of the year, and the unemployment rate has declined. Household spending and business fixed investment have continued to expand. On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and the measure excluding food and energy prices have declined and are running below 2 percent.”

  10. At its July meeting, the Federal Reserve voted to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1 to 1.25 percent, following a rate increase at its June meeting.

  11. The Federal Reserve next meets September 19-20.    

Labor Force Participation

  1. The labor force participation rate is 62.9 percent, unchanged from last month and remaining near its lowest level in 38 years.

  2. The labor force participation rate remains concerning as many workers stay on the sidelines. Since October 2013, the participation rate has largely been stuck in a narrow range of 62.5 to 63 percent. Prior to the recession, the rate was 66 percent.

  3. The share of American adults with jobs in August was 60.1 percent, down 0.1 percentage points from last month. This is nearly 4 percentage points below its pre-recession peak. 


  1. In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 3 cents to $26.39, following a 9 cent increase in July. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent.

Issue Tag: Labor