173,000 New Jobs in August, Unemployment Fell to 5.1%

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 173,000 in August according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from last month’s upwardly revised 245,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent. The Federal Reserve has placed its full employment estimate between 5.0 and 5.2 percent.

Education and health services posted strong gains, with healthcare and social assistance adding 56,400 jobs. Professional and business services added 33,000 jobs, down from 39,000 in July. The leisure and hospitality sector also added 33,000 jobs, an increase of 3,000 from the previous month.

Goods-producing industries struggled in August, losing a total of 24,000 jobs. The mining and logging sector shed 10,000 jobs, while manufacturing lost 17,000.  The motor vehicles and parts sector was a bright spot with manufacturing, adding jobs for the second month in a row. Motor vehicles and parts added 7,300 jobs over the past 2 months.

The civilian labor force participation rate was unchanged for the third consecutive month at 62.6 percent.

The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more was 2.2 million, down 779,000 from August of 2014. This group accounts for 27.7 percent of the unemployed. The number of discouraged workers, those not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available, was 624,000, down 151,000 from a year ago.

Average hourly earnings rose 8 cents to $25.09 – a 2.2 percent increase year over year. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that slow wage growth may have to do with lower job-to-job transition rates, as workers who transition to new jobs without gaps in employment tend to receive higher rates of pay.

Read the BLS release.