While the unemployment rate edged up to 9.6 percent, there are a few things that cause us to take a “glass half full” perspective on U.S. employment this month.
Yes, nonfarm payroll employment declined by -54,000 in August, BUT it was better than economist predictions that job loss could be up to -105,000
Secondly, June’s job loss was originally reported to be -221,000; it was revised to -175,000. And July’s number was revised from a loss of -131,000 to a decline of -54,000. (The Pollyanna in me is thinking about what August’s revision will be next month.)
Finally, while Government employment fell by -121,000, reflecting the departure of 114,000 temporary Census 2010 workers from federal government payrolls, private-sector payroll employment continued to trend up modestly by adding 67,000 jobs.
Dean Maki of Barclays Capital told Forbes: “On balance, the upward revisions make the report a bit stronger than we expected. It does not change the recent trend of moderate growth in private payrolls and is inconsistent with fears that a sharp slowdown in the economy is underway.”
Here’s a look at how some of the major sectors fared in August:
- Health care increased by 28,000, with the largest gains occurring in ambulatory health care services (+17,000) and hospitals (+9,000).
- Manufacturing employment dropped by -27,000. A decline in motor vehicles and parts (-22,000) offset a gain of similar magnitude in July as the industry geared up for its annual retooling.
- Temporary help services, which have added 392,000 jobs since a recent employment low in September 2009, added 17,000 jobs.
- Construction employment was up by 19,000, partially reflected by the return of the payrolls of 10,000 workers who were on strike in July.
- Retail trade was relatively unchanged. A job gain among motor vehicle and parts dealers (+8,000) was essentially offset by losses in building materials and garden supply stores (-6,000).