US employers add 235,000 jobs in Aug

Washington, Sep 4 (IANS): US employers added 235,000 jobs in August, with the unemployment rate dropping to 5.2 per cent, indicating a marked slowdown in job growth amid a Delta variant-fuelled Covid-19 resurgence, the Labour Department reported. Friday’s data followed an upwardly revised job gain of 1.1 million in July and 962,000 in June, reports Xinhua news agency. In August, employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged, after increasing by an average of 350,000 per month over the prior six months, the Department data showed.

Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.7 million, or 10.0 per cent, since February 2020. The report also noted that a job gain of 36,000 in arts, entertainment, and recreation was more than offset by a loss of 42,000 in food services and drinking places. In August, job gains were notable in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other services, while employment in retail trade declined over the month, the Department added.

Employment in professional and business services increased by 74,000, it said, adding that the figure was down by 468,000 from its pre-pandemic level. Employment increased by 40,000 in private education, declined by 21,000 in state government education, and fell by 6,000 in local government education, according to the Department. Noting that August marked the beginning of the traditional back-to-school season, it said that recent employment changes, however, are challenging to interpret, “as pandemic-related staffing fluctuations in public and private education have distorted the normal seasonal hiring and layoff patterns”.

Since February 2020, employment is down by 159,000 in private education, by 186,000 in state government education, and by 220,000 in local government education. The unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2 per cent in August, after dropping by 0.5 percentage point in the previous month. The measure was down considerably from its recent high in April 2020, but remained well above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 per cent.

The number of unemployed persons edged down to 8.4 million, following a large decrease in July, the Department said. The measure also remained well above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 million. Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers declined by 443,000 to 2.5 million in August but is 1.2 million higher than in February 2020.

The number of persons on temporary layoff, at 1.3 million, was essentially unchanged in August, 502,000 above the pre-pandemic level.