The unemployment rate dipped two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.1 percent in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, even though employers only added a disappointing 96,000 jobs to the nonfarm payroll employment numbers.
Since the beginning of this year, the unemployment rate has held in a narrow range of 8.1 to 8.3 percent, the BLS noted. Much of the reason for the decline in the unemployment rate came from a decline in both the civilian labor force (154.6 million) and the labor force participation rate (63.5 percent) in August. The employment-population ratio, at 58.3 percent, was little changed.
Most of the employment increases in August came in the food services and “drinking places” sector, in professional and technical services, and in health care.
The BLS also revised downward the employment figures for June and July, with the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June going from 64,000 to 45,000 jobs added, and July going from 163,000 to 141,000 jobs added.
In August, the private sector added 103,000 jobs, the 30th consecutive month of job growth, the White House pointed out, for a total of 4.6 million jobs during that period.
Employment rose notably in leisure and hospitality (+34,000), professional and business services (+28,000), health care and social assistance (+21,700), and wholesale trade (+7,900), according to Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. "Manufacturing lost 15,000 jobs, including a 7,500 drop in motor vehicles and parts, which is partly payback for there having been relatively few seasonal auto plant shutdowns in July," he wrote in a blog post. "Over the past 30 months, manufacturers have added more than 500,000 jobs. Government lost 7,000 jobs, as state government payrolls fell by 6,000 and local governments shed 4,000 jobs. Since February 2010, state and local governments have lost 504,000 jobs."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney contrasted the mixed jobs report with President Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. "If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover," he said in a statement, according to the Weekly Standard. "For every net new job created, nearly four Americans gave up looking for work entirely. This is more of the same for middle class families who are suffering through the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. After 43 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent, it is clear that President Obama just hasn't lived up to his promises and his policies haven't worked. We aren’t better off than they were four years ago. My plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million new jobs by the end of my first term. America deserves new leadership that will get our economy moving again."