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.