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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – August 2015

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Unemployment Rate – August 2015

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in seven years in August. The job gain number wasn’t great, but was still solid.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 140,000 nonfarm job gains in August. Local, state and federal governments netted 33,000 job gains, resulting in 173,000 total net job gains.

Note: Sorry that we’re almost a week late in publishing this August Unemployment Rate post. We were having problems with our blog software, but it’s fixed now. Thanks for your patience.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent. That’s the lowest rate since April of 2008 when it was 5.0 percent, but beginning to rapidly rise toward the recessionary high of 10.0 set in October 2009. Analysts had expected 218,000 to 220,000 job gains in August and for the unemployment rate to drop slightly to 5.2 percent.

The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 66 consecutive months since the Great Recession. The unemployment rate has dropped 4.9 percentage points from the recessionary high.

The BLS also revised job gains for June and July, showing that the economy netted 44,000 more jobs than the BLS had previously estimated for the months. After BLS revisions, net job gains have averaged 221,000 per month over the past year. In the year prior to August, net job gains averaged 247,000 per month, about twice the monthly job gains required to keep up with U.S. population growth.

Did you know?Starbucks, Walmart, Macy’s, JPMorgan Chase, Hilton, Microsoft, Walgreens and a variety of other major U.S. companies have formed the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative”. By 2018, the companies intend to train and hire 100,000 teenagers and young adults (from 16 to 24 years old) who face obstacles to employment and educational opportunities. The first “Opportunity Fair and Forum” held on August 13, 2015 in Chicago, IL was a huge success. Visit the Website linked above for more information.

At 41,000, job growth continued in health care. The industry has netted 457,000 jobs in the past year. Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years, even throughout the Great Recession, is attributable to the increasing medical demands of aging baby boomers and the ever-growing obesity epidemic, and to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as well.

Job growth also continued in the professional and business services industry at 33,000. Temporary help services (“temp workers”) gained 10,700 of those.

Job growth continued in food services and drinking places, too. This time the industry netted 26,000 jobs. The industry has netted a monthly average of 31,000 over the prior 12 months.

Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor-market health, lost 17,000 jobs in August. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, gained only 3,000 jobs.

Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (16.9 percent) followed by blacks (9.5), Hispanics (6.6), adult women (4.7), adult men (4.7), whites (4.4) and Asians (3.5, not seasonally adjusted). All groups experienced little to no change in their unemployment rates.

Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 2.5 percent unemployment rate in August, down slightly from 2.6 in July. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 7.7 percent rate, but at least it was down from 8.3 in July. See Table A-5 by the BLS for more information about the unemployment rate by education level.

Unemployment Rate 2008 to 2015
Unemployment Rate Chart 2008 to 2015

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in August, from 5.3 in July. The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed was 8.0 million, down from 8.3 million in July. The number of unemployed workers has decreased by 1.5 million in the past year.

The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in August was 6.5 million, up from 6.3 million in July.

The average workweek for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours in August, after remaining at 34.5 hours from March through June. Their average hourly earnings rose by 8 cents to $25.09, after a 6-cent gain in July. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent in a year.

Average hourly earnings rose by 5 cents to $21.07 in August for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, after a 3-cent gain in July.

The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs.

The number of marginally-attached workers in August was 1.8 million, down slightly from 1.9 million in July. Among the marginally-attached, 624,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs — at least not for them. The number of discouraged workers was down by 44,000 from the 668,000 that the BLS initially reported for July. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)

The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 2.2 million in August, the same as in July. These workers accounted for 27.7 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed workers has declined by 779,000 over the past 12 months. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.

If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.

For more details about the August 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the September 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers on October 2. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.

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