August Jobs Report: Hiring Slows, but Wages Increase

Tom Cunningham, PhD
September 6, 2019
Read Time: min

This morning’s BLS Employment Situation Report showed a disappointing 130,000 net jobs created for the month of August. Analysts had anticipated a gain of 150,000 jobs. Moreover, 25,000 of those jobs created were by the Federal Government due to hiring for Census-related activities. The Census will distort the payroll numbers until the process is completed. Private payrolls increased 96,000. The previous two months’ numbers were revised down by a total of 20,000.

The headline unemployment (U3) number remained unchanged at 3.7%, as expected. The broader measure of labor underutilization (U6) increased 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%, as the number of workers employed part-time for economic reasons increased.

Apart from government census hiring, health care, financial services, professional and business services, and social assistance showed some strength.  Mining and Retail Trade both saw job losses, and the other sectors were essentially flat.

Despite weak job growth, average hourly earnings provided a positive note, continuing on its 3.2% growth pace. The average workweek also increased, however, by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours this month. ​

Overall, this is fairly bleak report. Moreover, it comes after a string of rather weak economic data releases. Of course, you usually don’t want to make too much of anyone number, but the overall picture is not as strong as it has been.

About the Author

Tom Cunningham, PhD

Tom joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as an economist with the macropolicy group in 1985. He was promoted to senior economist in 1989 and to research officer and senior economist with responsibility for the regional group in 1992. Cunningham retired in 2015 after a 30 year career. He has recently joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s leadership team as chief economist. Cunningham’s deep experience covers all aspects of applied economics and real estate trends, and he is a specialist in macroeconomic policy and regional analysis. Throughout his career, he has interacted with multiple business leaders and companies in the Southeast, and has deep knowledge and expertise in areas such as real estate mortgage, mortgage finance, insurance, capital markets, transportation and government.

Full Bio

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