Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Transmission of material in this statement is embargoed until 
8:30 a.m. (ET) Friday, September 3, 2021.

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                      Friday, September 3, 2021

      Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August, and 
the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2 
percent. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 
586,000. In August, notable job gains occurred in professional 
and business services, transportation and warehousing, private 
education, manufacturing, and other services. Employment in 
retail trade declined. 
      Reflecting the initial impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) 
pandemic on the labor market, job losses totaled 22.4 million 
during the February-April 2020 recession. Nonfarm payroll 
employment has increased by 17.0 million since April 2020 but is 
down by 5.3 million, or 3.5 percent, from its pre-pandemic level 
in February 2020. 
      Employment in professional and business services rose by 
74,000 in August. Job gains occurred in architectural and 
engineering services (+19,000), computer systems design and 
related services (+10,000), scientific research and development 
services (+7,000), and office administrative services (+6,000). 
Employment in professional and business services is down by 
468,000 since February 2020, over half of which is in temporary 
help services (-262,000).
      Transportation and warehousing added 53,000 jobs in August, 
bringing employment in the industry slightly above (+22,000) its 
February 2020 level. Employment gains have been led by strong 
growth in couriers and messengers and in warehousing and 
storage, which added 20,000 jobs each in August. Employment in 
air transportation increased by 11,000 over the month. Transit 
and ground passenger transportation--which includes school 
buses--lost 8,000 jobs.  
      In August, employment in private education increased by 
40,000, while state government education lost 21,000 jobs, and 
employment in local government education changed little 
(-6,000). All three education industries showed employment gains 
in June and July. August marks the beginning of the traditional 
back-to-school season. However, recent employment changes 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.
      Manufacturing added 37,000 jobs in August, with gains in 
motor vehicles and parts (+24,000) and fabricated metal products 
(+7,000). Employment in manufacturing is 378,000 lower than in 
February 2020.
      In August, employment in the other services industry 
increased by 37,000, with growth occurring in personal and 
laundry services (+19,000) and in repair and maintenance 
(+9,000). Since February 2020, employment in other services is 
down by 189,000.
      Employment in information rose by 17,000 in August, with 
data processing, hosting, and related services (+12,000) 
accounting for more than two-thirds of the gain. Employment in 
information is 150,000 lower than in February 2020.
      Financial activities added 16,000 jobs in August, led by a 
gain in real estate (+11,000). Employment in financial 
activities is down by 29,000 since February 2020.
      Mining employment rose by 6,000 in August, reflecting a 
gain in support activities for mining (+4,000). Mining has added 
55,000 jobs since a trough in August 2020, but employment is 
96,000 lower than a peak in January 2019.
      Employment in retail trade declined by 29,000 in August, 
with job losses in food and beverage stores (-23,000) and in 
building material and garden supply stores (-13,000). Since 
February 2020, employment in retail trade is down by 285,000.
      Employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged in 
August. This industry had added 2.1 million jobs from January 
2021 through July, accounting for half of total nonfarm 
employment growth over the period. In August, a decline of 
42,000 in food services and drinking places offset a job gain in 
arts, entertainment, and recreation (+36,000). Employment in 
leisure and hospitality is 1.7 million, or 10.0 percent, lower 
than in February 2020.
      Employment in other major industries--including 
construction, wholesale trade, and health care--showed little 
change over the month.
      In August, the average workweek for all private-sector 
workers remained unchanged at 34.7 hours. The average workweek 
for manufacturing decreased by 0.2 hour to 40.3 hours.
      Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls increased by 17 cents to $30.73 in August, following 
increases in the prior 4 months. The data for recent months 
suggest that rising demand for labor associated with the 
recovery from the pandemic may have put upward pressure on 
wages. However, because average hourly earnings vary widely 
across industries, the large employment fluctuations since 
February 2020 complicate the analysis of trends in average 
hourly earnings.      
      Turning to the labor market indicators from the household 
survey, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point 
to 5.2 percent in August. The number of unemployed people edged 
down to 8.4 million. These measures have fallen from their April 
2020 peaks but remain above their February 2020 levels (3.5 
percent and 5.7 million, respectively).
      Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates 
decreased in August for adult men (5.1 percent) and Whites (4.5 
percent). The jobless rate for teenagers increased to 11.2 
percent. The unemployment rates for adult women (4.8 percent), 
Blacks (8.8 percent), Asians (4.6 percent), and Hispanics (6.4 
percent) showed little change over the month.
      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 people on temporary 
layoff, at 1.3 million, was essentially unchanged in August. 
This measure is down considerably from a high of 18.0 million in 
April 2020 but is 502,000 higher than in February 2020. The 
number of reentrants to the labor force increased by 200,000 to 
2.5 million in August.
      The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more (often 
referred to as the long-term unemployed) decreased by 246,000 in 
August to 3.2 million. This measure is up by 2.1 million since 
February 2020. In August, the long-term unemployed accounted for 
37.4 percent of the unemployed. The number of people unemployed 
for less than 5 weeks, at 2.1 million, was little changed in 
      The labor force participation rate, at 61.7 percent, was 
unchanged in August and has remained within a narrow range of 
61.4 percent to 61.7 percent since June 2020. This measure is 
1.6 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The 
employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little in 
August but is 2.6 percentage points lower than in February 2020.
      In August, 4.5 million people were working part time for 
economic reasons, essentially unchanged from the previous month. 
The number of people working part time for economic reasons is 
down from a peak of 10.9 million in April 2020. There were 4.4 
million people affected by this type of underemployment in 
February 2020.
      The number of people not in the labor force who currently 
want a job decreased by 835,000 to 5.7 million in August. This 
measure is down from a peak of 9.9 million in April 2020 but 
remains higher than the February 2020 level (5.0 million). Among 
those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of 
people marginally attached to the labor force decreased by 
295,000 to 1.6 million in August. (People who are marginally 
attached to the labor force had not actively looked for work in 
the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available 
for work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 months.) 
The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally 
attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, 
declined by 115,000 in August to 392,000. 
      As in previous months, some workers affected by the 
pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on 
temporary layoff in August were instead misclassified as 
employed but not at work. Since March 2020, BLS has published an 
estimate of what the unemployment rate would have been had 
misclassified workers been included among the unemployed. 
Repeating this same approach, the seasonally adjusted August 
unemployment rate would have been 0.3 percentage point higher 
than reported. Additional information about the 
misclassification, as well as information about response rates 
for both the household and establishment surveys, is available 
on the BLS website at
      Looking at supplemental pandemic-related measures from the 
household survey (these supplemental data are not seasonally 
adjusted), the share of employed people who teleworked in August 
because of the coronavirus pandemic was 13.4 percent, little 
changed from July. These data refer only to employed people who 
teleworked or worked from home for pay at some point in the last 
4 weeks specifically because of the pandemic; they do not 
include all instances of telework.
      In August, the number of people who reported that they had 
been unable to work because their employer closed or lost 
business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all 
or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to 
the pandemic--increased by 497,000 to 5.6 million. Among those 
who reported in August that they were unable to work because of 
pandemic-related closures or lost business, 13.9 percent 
received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not 
worked, up from 9.1 percent in July. 
      Among those not in the labor force in August, 1.5 million 
people were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, 
little changed from July. (To be counted as unemployed, by 
definition, individuals must either be actively searching for 
work or on temporary layoff.)
      In summary, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 in 
August, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent.

Last Modified Date: September 03, 2021