U.S. economy added 96K jobs in August but labor participation rate hits 30-year low
Employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today showed that the U.S. economy added only 96,000 jobs in August – a lower-than-expected growth that underscored the fragile state of the economic recovery.
The BLS figures also showed that last month’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% – down from 8.3% in July. But the dip largely resulted from a high number of job seekers who have left the labor force – in other words, stopped looking for employment. In fact, the U.S. labor participation rate dropped to 63.5% last month – the lowest rate since 1982.
The BLS also revised the employment figures for June and July. The June jobs number was lowered to 45,000 from 64,000, and the July figure was lowered to 141,000 from 163,000.
Overall, the latest employment figures were not good news for President Barack Obama and the Democrats, who have spent the past three days showcasing the President’s jobs record, particularly the rescue of the American auto industry, the 2009 Recovery Act, and the 18 small business tax cuts.
Reiterating the President’s appeal for patience, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said that solving an economic crisis 10 years in the making cannot happen “overnight.”
“Our recovery remains on a stable trajectory of positive job growth. Smart and steady wins the race,” said Solis. “To continue our path forward, Congress must reject the voices who seek to gut funding for education and skills training at this pivotal moment for our nation. We have to make a college education affordable for every student willing to work hard, invest in skills training so Americans workers can compete in a 21st century economy and prevent a tax increase on middle-class families. We know that an enduring recovery must be built from the middle out and the bottom up —not the top down. That’s the key to securing our long-term prosperity.”
Putting the August BLS numbers in context, Solis pointed out that 4.6 million private sector jobs were created in the last 30 months, including about 2 million jobs in 2011.
Indeed, compared to last year, unemployment rate has dropped from 9.1% in August 2011 to 8.1%. About 85,000 jobs were created in August 2011 compared to 96,000 jobs created last month – a nearly 13% increase.
However, as BLS Acting Commissioner John Galvin noted, this year’s average monthly job growth is 139,000, which is down from last year’s average month jobs gain of 153,000 – an indication that the economy remains largely anemic.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: The Employment Situation – August 2012
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Statement by Acting Commissioner John M. Galvin on Sept. 7, 2012
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Participation Rate 1982 – 2012 (PDF)
- Department of Labor: Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on August employment numbers
- WhiteHouse.gov: The Employment Situation in August
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Remarks by President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention