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U.S. Employers Add 173,000 Jobs In August; Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.1 Percent

Economy Headlines Tribune News Service

U.S. Employers Add 173,000 Jobs In August; Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.1 Percent


By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Job growth unexpectedly slowed last month to a modest 173,000, but the unemployment rate fell to a post-Great Recession low and average wages posted their biggest gain since January, the Labor Department said Friday.

The report sent mixed messages to Federal Reserve policymakers, who are trying to decide if the labor market and, more broadly, the economy are strong enough to handle the first increase in a key interest rate since 2006.

The low headline number was well below analyst expectations for 223,000 net new jobs, and down from July’s strong 245,000 figure.

But growth for June and July was revised up by a total of 44,000 net new jobs. That means the economy has added an average of 221,000 jobs over the last three months.
Because of seasonal adjustment issues, August figures have been revised up significantly in recent years as well.

Knowing that and combined with the other positives in the report, Friday’s data could be enough for Fed officials to determine later this month that the labor market is ready to handle a small increase in the central bank’s benchmark short-term interest rate.

The unemployment rate ticked down 0.2 percentage point in August to 5.1 percent, the lowest since April 2008. The rate now is nearly half what it was at its peak during the Great Recession.

Part of the reason for last month’s decline was about 41,000 people dropped out of the labor force. The percentage of adults participating in the labor force remained steady at 62.6 percent, the lowest level since 1977.

But wage growth, which has been sluggish during the recovery, is showing signs of accelerating. Average hourly earnings jumped 8 cents last month to $25.09, the largest gain since January. That followed a strong 6-cent increase in July.

For the year ended Aug. 31, earnings are up 2.2 percent, which is well above the low inflation rate.

Fed officials have been looking for signs of improving wage growth, which would show that the labor market is strengthening and also would add to inflationary pressures.

Friday’s report is the last major release of economic data before Fed policymakers meet on Sept. 16-17 to decide whether to raise the federal funds rate from the near 0 percent level it has been since late 2008.

Many analysts had expected the Fed would raise the rate by .25 percentage point at the September meeting, but roiling global financial markets in recent weeks have led to concerns an interest rate hike by the world’s leading central bank could add to the turmoil.

Shortly before the jobs report was released, a top Fed policymaker said Friday that financial market volatility should not delay a rate hike.

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., said in a speech to a local retail merchants group that “the Fed has a history of overreacting to financial market movements that seem unconnected to economic fundamentals.”

Lacker, a voting member of the policymaking Federal Open Markets Committee, noted the unemployment rate “has fallen more rapidly than many people expected” from its Great Recession peak of 10 percent in October 2009.

And with the “slow but steady” economic growth and inflation showing signs of picking up, it’s time for the Fed to start raising its benchmark interest rate, he said.

“I am not arguing that the economy is perfect, but nor is it on the ropes, requiring zero interest rates to get it back into the ring,” Lacker said. “It’s time to align our monetary policy with the significant progress we have made.”

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Samuel Huron via Flickr



  1. Christel Win September 4, 2015


  2. Christel Win September 4, 2015

    I want to guide you to excellent work opportunity… three-five hours of work /a day… Payment at the end of every week… Performance depending bonuses…Payscale of six-nine thousand dollars /for month… Only few hrs of spare time, a computer, most basic understanding of www and reliable internet-connection is what is needed…Get$

  3. Otto Greif September 4, 2015

    We’ve had an anemic recovery thanks in large part to Obama policies.

    1. JPHALL September 5, 2015

      You failed to mention a do nothing Congress that only allowed part of Obama’s program. And since in reality a president can not do everything alone, he did a pretty good job. Try again!

    2. Dominick Vila September 5, 2015

      I know. With a growth rate of 3.7% the last quarter V negative growth when W left office, deficits cut by 1/3, unemployment at normal levels, low inflation, low interest rates, the DOW going as high as 18,000 points before the recent market adjustment, consumer confidence up, and all other economic indicators on solid ground, what is happening is nothing short of economic Armageddon…for the average Republican.

      1. Otto Greif September 7, 2015

        The recovery has been historically weak.

  4. Lynda Groom September 5, 2015

    Wow, and Trump says the unemployment rate is about 40%. Somebody is sure wrong.

    1. GoneGoneGone September 5, 2015

      It is, if you nonsensically include retirees and students as he is.

      1. joe schmo September 6, 2015

        Wrong! Read my statements above:)

        1. Dominick Vila September 6, 2015

          We did.

    2. joe schmo September 6, 2015

      …and it’s not Trump! It’s your fearless emperor….who is stacking the deck.

    3. Dominick Vila September 6, 2015

      Especially the business owners who post Hiring signs on their windows, and send recruiters to colleges, and can’t find enough qualified workers to fill their vacancies. Unfortunately, there are enough people willing to accept the most ridiculous claims, regardless of evidence pointing otherwise. Every person looking for a job, commensurate with his/her qualifications, can find one.

  5. joe schmo September 5, 2015

    1) Record 94 million Americans are not in the labor force.
    2) 56,253,000 women are not working.

    I can vouch for this because we are some of the Americans picking up odd jobs to make ends meet.



    — In August, the economy added 173,000 jobs, and the uemmployment rate
    dropped a tenth of a point to 5.1 percent from 5.2 percent. Job gains
    occurred in health care and social assistance and in financial
    activities. Manufacturing and mining lost jobs.

    — Among the
    major demographic groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to
    4.4 percent in August. The rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult
    women (4.7 percent), teenagers (16.9 percent), blacks (9.5 percent),
    Asians (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (6.6 percent) showed little change
    in August.

    — The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless
    for 27 weeks or more) held at 2.2 million in August and accounted for
    27.7 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of
    long-term unemployed is down by 779,000.

    — The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons
    (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) ticked up in
    August to 6,483,000, 158,000 more than the 6,325,000 recorded in July.
    These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were
    working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they
    were unable to find a full-time job.


    The number of women out of the U.S. labor force reached another
    record high in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The BLS reported Friday that 56,253,000 women, ages 16 and older,
    were not participating in the workforce in August. That’s up 44,000 from
    July, when 56,209,000 women were neither employed nor had made a
    specific effort to find work in the four weeks prior.

    The trend for women is similar to the national figures. The month of August saw a record number of men and women out of the labor force, exceeding 94 million for the first time.

    What’s the matter ‘Memo’ I see less and less people on your site….

    1. Dominick Vila September 5, 2015

      Has it occurred to you that the reason some women are not looking for a job is because (a) family commitments, and (b) because their husbands are making enough money to support their families on one income?
      With hiring signs all over the place, and corporate recruiters having a hard time finding qualified candidates to fill vacancies, those who remain unemployed are either between jobs, not interested in working, or unqualified for the jobs they are seeking.

      1. bobnstuff September 5, 2015

        43% of women do not return to the work force after the have their first child. I think it’s called family values.

        1. joe schmo September 6, 2015

          ? ahhhh…..not exactly correct. Maybe in the 50’s that was the case. No longer.

          1. bobnstuff September 6, 2015

            This is only one of a number of pieces I have read. It’s a fact. This one is from 2013 but the trend is still holding and this one is clear in how they put it.

      2. joe schmo September 6, 2015

        Not what I heard. I heard that many Hispanic women have the jobs. In my state, CaliMexico, Hispanics have favor of getting jobs over other citizens. The job market is very bias. We see this consistently all around us. The statistics are not lying…..

        1. Dominick Vila September 6, 2015

          If what you heard refers to Hispanics-Latinos in sectors of our economy such as agriculture, meat-packing, and hospitality, that is probably true. A similar situation is true for some types of construction jobs. That circumstance is not due to bias, but to the fact that most white Americans are not interested in doing certain types of jobs as a result of their skill level (education and experience), and the expectations that come with it.
          In any case, in the case of women I did not interpret the statistics you provided regarding gender as referring to a specific ethnic group. Conversely, some of the statistics you gave us about specific ethnic groups, such as unemployment among African-Americans and Hispanics-Latinos referred to both men and women.
          In the state I live in now, Florida, the majority of Hispanics are from Puerto Rico and Cuba. Mexican and Central American migrants can be found, and work mostly in agriculture and hospitality, but they are not as numerous as in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado, for obvious reasons.

    2. Karen Bille-Golden September 5, 2015

      I visit some of your sites to read the articles Joe and when I get to the comments section, it’s true, you may have 500 comments. But then I start reading them. Just a bunch of people trying to outdo one another in the ignorance department who don’t have much to say that isn’t an insult and rarely, if ever, offering a better way forward. More people who care about problem solving here than the mudslingers you have over there. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads the article before typing their usual response….it’s always the same no matter the topic.

      1. joe schmo September 6, 2015

        Please…..be my guest….why not give me your wonderful solutions (most liberals can’t and won’t) or don’t bother me with your indifference and bigotry. My dear I am not an uneducated ninny. I have a master’s degree. I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER. That is what I was trained to do.

        My solutions are not unlike Donald Trumps. Bring the jobs back, bring the manufacturing back, Tariff and import taxes need to be paid by China, Mexico and Japan. Lower taxes for the middle class. Keep spurring on innovation and get rid of the ‘umpteen’ illegals that plague our landscape. Eliminate Odummocare. It is a loser! Deductibles are through the roof. Spur on competition. Add discipline and responsibility back into the classroom. Get rid of tenure. We are paying for bad teachers. I have taught college and after a professor is tenured they no longer care. Make our military strong so NO ONE will mess with us. Get rid of the PC police. It’s killing us and we didn’t need them before. What do you want total anarch? You will be sorry if this continues because it can and will hit home at some point.

        You will not change your mind…I can tell simply by looking at your name that you are a bleeding heart.

        1. Karen Bille-Golden September 6, 2015

          Thankfully you are wealthy, educated and a problem solver. You will need those three things to survive. I live within my means, care about the state of the world today and the future for generations to come.

    3. BillP September 5, 2015

      Joe in prior comments with you, you claimed to be wealthy and that you father taught you how to invest. Now you are claiming to be you are art of America that is working odd jobs to make ends meet. You were either lying then or now. As for the 94 million people out of the job market (that does not equate to unemployed) how many are over 55yo and retired? How many are high school or college students? How many are stay at home parents? You and other trolls have tried to push that number as unemployed, well is a 75yo person retired or unemployed? As for this number increasing the number of baby boomers reaching retirement age has been increasing steadily,the oldest BB’s are close to 70yo now. As usual you write a comment with bogus #’s to support your bogus claim

      1. joe schmo September 6, 2015

        My family is wealthy:) and I am well educated…..period.

        CNBC article…..What you state about job affairs is not exactly accurate:

        At a time when 8.5 million Americans still don’t have jobs, some 40 percent have given up even looking.

        The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows.

        A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals.

        “This survey shows that some of the troubling trends we observed last year are continuing,” Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said in a statement. “While the economy is indeed getting better for some, for others who have been unemployed long term, they are increasingly being left behind.”

        1. BillP September 10, 2015

          Well you offer contradictory statements , you wrote “I can vouch for this because “we” are some of the Americans picking up odd jobs to make ends meet.” Yet you state you are wealthy, so you are hardly struggling to make ends meet and are not in the “WE” category. You mention that 40% have given up even looking, 40% of what – the total population or the number of those unemployed?

          You take #’s at one point in time and ignore other data or trends. For women you use the 16yo & older not 20yo & older, most 16/17yo’s are in high school and even a good # of 18-20yo’s are in college. Including these women in any employment or unemployment calculation is inaccurate. As of 8/31/2015 there are 26.3 million women 65 or older, the vast majority of these women are retired, hardly unemployed and should not be considered not in the labor force. Since the Baby Boomer population is just going to get older more and more women will be in the 65yo & older category as the years go on. As usual you use a number without any analysis of what makes up this #. You report 1 number – the # of women not in the Labor Force without reporting other #’s like the women 20+ in the population, in the Labor Force, Employed and Unemployed. The first 3 values have all increased since 12/2008 while the women 20+ unemployed has decreased. I haven’t even included women who are stay at home mothers or women 50 to 64yo that are retired.

          The Harris Poll you copied and pasted to your comment included some other findings that you didn’t mention. Here is an example of some other comments from this poll – Nevertheless, 91 percent agree with the statement, “I’m hopeful that I will find a job I really want in the next six months.” Also this poll doesn’t show the age breakdown of the respondents – how many are over 50yo they would have a tougher time finding a job most times. The poll does show some #’s that are not good – “64 percent have no plans to go back to school to make them more marketable. 7 percent are currently enrolled in classes, and 6 percent have already attended classes or earned a new degree.” People need to develop at least some basic computer skills and should learn applications like Excel or Word as examples, without basic computer skills a lot of jobs will not be available to them.

          Here is another opinion on the economy by 2 economists from Northern Trust – “Labor market developments stand out and make a case for a higher policy rate. The 5.3% unemployment rate, consistently impressive non-farm payrolls numbers and a reduction in labor market underutilization indicate strong labor market fundamentals”

          “Consumer spending recovered in the second quarter after a muted increase in the prior quarter. Labor market conditions continue to improve and support expectations of growth in consumer expenditures.”
          “Housing starts rose sharply in the second quarter to reach a new high for the expansion on a quarterly basis. Sales of existing homes (5.49 million) also reached an expansion high in the second quarter. New home sales slipped in June”
          “Labor market developments stand out and make a case for a higher policy rate. The 5.3% unemployment rate, consistently impressive non-farm payrolls numbers and a reduction in labor market underutilization indicate strong labor market fundamentals.”

          From Reuters these comments “U.S. factory activity braked to a more than two-year low in August, but sturdy gains in automobile sales and construction spending suggested the economy remained on solid footing.The sharp slowdown in manufacturing has been hurt by a strong dollar and deep spending cuts in the energy sector.Ten out of 18 manufacturing industries, including machinery and furniture, reported growth last month. Six industries, including apparel, primary metals, and computer and electronic products, said activity had contracted. Manufacturing, which accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. economy, has been under pressure from a strong dollar, which has gained 16.8 percent against the currencies of the United States’ main trading partners since June 2014” Weren’t you claiming that the US Dollar was tanking last year, maybe you misunderstood that when it takes “less’ US Dollars to but another currency that’s an increase in its value, that is hardly tanking!

  6. Dominick Vila September 5, 2015

    It will not be long before Republicans use the latest labor statistic as evidence of failure and bad economic policies. The party that controlled the White House when the U.S. economy was on the verge of collapse, when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, when unemployment was going up at leaps and bounds, when when most Americans had lost the ability to dream of a better future for themselves and their children will, without a doubt, clamor for a return of the good old days of Republican economic failures and dismal job creation. On the latter, the fact that Republicans have refused to invest in infrastructure, which in addition to being a job creation mechanism is desperately needed to remain competitive, the fact that they oppose raising a ridiculous minimum wage, and their insistence on tax loopholes and subsidies to people that don’t need public help, and that often use the extra loot to invest abroad, have all contributed to the slow recovery. If in doubt, let’s not forget what Mitch McConnell said about the obstructionist policies that caused so much misery and delayed the economic recovery: they were designed to ensure President Obama was a one-term President. Having failed at that, they now blame President Obama for the slow recovery caused by their obstructionism!

    1. Whatmeworry September 5, 2015

      $10 Trillion in debt later what have we gained with all the spending?? Better roads? better schools? stronger military? All we have gained is the largest % ever of leeches not paying taxes.

      1. bobnstuff September 5, 2015

        So can you tell us all what the money was spent on? I guess he shouldn’t have cut taxes on small business’s and money to keep teachers and first responders on the job was a mistake to. The money was spent and accounted for. It would look like it has worked. Should he have spent the money on another war? We are still paying for the last one.

        1. joe schmo September 6, 2015

          Social Programs are killing us. Kind of like living in the ‘Dark Ages.’ California is enacting an additional 65 dollar charge for each vehicle a year. Where do you suppose that money will go? Probably the way of the increased gas tax…. To help fund illegals. Time to ship them home!

          1. bobnstuff September 6, 2015

            We are spending about 30% less on social programs on the fed level now over three years ago. Your $65 state tax is going to make up what the Fed isn’t giving you for your roads. You wanted a smaller fed, you got it.

          2. Whatmeworry September 6, 2015

            HUH??? name 1 agency that has had their budget cut other than the IRS

          3. bobnstuff September 7, 2015


        2. Whatmeworry September 6, 2015

          So you agree we got NUTTING for all the red ink

          1. bobnstuff September 7, 2015

            We only go one of the strongest economies in the world out of it.

      2. Dominick Vila September 6, 2015

        The National debt is actually over $18T and the disbursements/obligations have not changed much over the years. Part of that debt involves liabilities, such as the money the government is obligated to pay to Social Security contributors/beneficiaries. Part of it involves the cost of wars. A big chunk is interest on the debt. Other contributing factor include major economic stimulants, such as the TARP (bank bailout), the economic stimulus used to prevent the economic from certain collapse, the impact of the 2007 recession on government revenues, increased unemployment disbursements during the recession, and the deficit between real taxation V spending. What is not as large as you think is welfare, which was reduced significantly in the Clinton days.
        The largest government outlays are Social Security, MEDICARE, Defense, and MEDICAID. Unfortunately, we don’t spend enough on infrastructure or education, which is desperately needed, would have a positive long term impact on our future, and would help create more and better jobs.

        1. Whatmeworry September 6, 2015

          Education is the 3rd largest expenditure Defense is 4th

          1. Dominick Vila September 7, 2015

            You may want to double check your sources.
            “During FY2014, the federal government spent $3.504 trillion on a budget
            or cash basis, up $50 billion or 1% vs. FY2013 spending of $3.455
            trillion. Major categories of FY 2014 spending included: Social Security
            ($845B or 24% of spending), Healthcare such as Medicare and Medicaid
            ($831B or 24%), Defense Department ($596B or 17%), non-defense
            discretionary spending used to run federal Departments and Agencies
            ($583B or 17%), other mandatory programs such as food stamps and
            unemployment compensation ($420B or 12%) and interest ($229B or 4%)”

  7. sue.hutchison September 6, 2015

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  8. 2ThinkN_Do2 September 6, 2015

    Yes and roughly 38% of those employable have quit looking . . . hmmm. And how may of the employed are underemployed; meaning making less or only working part-time or at employers who hire for limited time (like 4 – 6 months) and then they are back in the hunt. The numbers crunchers are always capable of making things appear better than they truly are. Yes, there are those too, who know the reality of the numbers games, but there is no reason to share that information, it might incite public unrest.

  9. Eliza Fisher September 7, 2015

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