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Unemployment Rate Rises to 3.8% as Nonfarm Payroll Employment Increases by 187,000 in August

In the latest report, the US unemployment rate rose unexpectedly to 3.8% in August, while nonfarm payroll employment saw an increase of 187,000 jobs. This data indicates a mixed picture for the US labor market, with job growth but also a higher unemployment rate.

Unemployment Rate and Worker Groups

  • In August, the unemployment rate in the United States rose to 3.8%, indicating ongoing challenges in the job market.
  • The rise in unemployment rates was particularly notable for adult men, Whites, and Asians. These groups experienced increases in their respective unemployment rates. On the other hand, unemployment rates for adult women, teenagers, Blacks, and Hispanics remained relatively stable during this period.

Unemployment Figures and Job Losses

  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 514,000 to reach a total of 6.4 million in August compared to the previous year. This significant increase indicates the continued impact of the pandemic on job availability and highlights the challenges individuals are facing in finding employment.
  • Among the unemployed, the number of individuals who lost jobs or completed temporary positions increased by 294,000 to 2.9 million in August. This offset a decrease of 280,000 in July, indicating a fluctuating job market with ongoing layoffs and changes in employment status.
  • Additionally, there was an increase in the number of new entrants looking for jobs, which reached 597,000 in August. This suggests that individuals are actively seeking employment opportunities, possibly driven by improved economic conditions and a desire to rejoin the workforce.

Labor Market Participation and Long-Term Unemployment

  • The labor force participation rate, which measures the proportion of the working-age population either employed or actively seeking employment, increased by 0.2 percentage points to 62.8% in August. This slight uptick indicates a higher number of individuals entering or returning to the labor force.
  • Both short-term unemployed individuals (less than 5 weeks) and long-term unemployed individuals (jobless for 27 weeks or more) saw slight increases in August. Long-term unemployed individuals accounted for 20.3% of all unemployed persons, indicating the persistence of challenges in finding long-term employment opportunities.

Industry-Specific Employment Changes

  • The healthcare sector continued to show significant growth, adding 71,000 jobs in August. This trend follows a similar gain in the previous month. Within the healthcare industry, employment growth was driven by ambulatory health care services, nursing and residential care facilities, and hospitals. The ongoing demand for healthcare services contributes to the overall strength of this sector.
  • The leisure and hospitality industry added 40,000 jobs in August, reflecting its ongoing recovery. However, despite these gains, the sector remains below pre-pandemic employment levels by 290,000 jobs or 1.7%. The leisure and hospitality industry includes businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues, which were heavily impacted by pandemic-related restrictions.
  • The social assistance sector, which includes services provided by individual and family services organizations, saw an increase of 26,000 jobs in August. This growth aligns with the average gain over the previous 12 months, indicating stability and sustained employment opportunities in this sector.
  • The construction industry added 22,000 jobs in August, consistent with the average monthly gain over the past year. Specialty trade contractors and heavy and civil engineering construction contributed to the positive trends within the construction sector. These figures demonstrate the stability and ongoing demand for construction projects.
  • The transportation and warehousing sector experienced a decline of 34,000 jobs in August. This decline was primarily attributed to a sharp decrease in truck transportation employment. Additionally, the couriers and messengers subsector saw job losses, while air transportation experienced a modest increase. These changes indicate the ongoing challenges faced by certain segments of the transportation and warehousing industry.
  • Employment in the professional and business services sector remained relatively unchanged, with a slight gain of 19,000 jobs in August. Within this sector, there was stability in professional, scientific, and technical services. However, temporary help services experienced a decline, indicating potential shifts in demand for temporary workers.
  • The information sector, which includes industries such as publishing, broadcasting, motion pictures, telecommunications, and data processing, remained stable in August, with little change in employment figures. The motion picture and sound recording industries reported a decrease due to strike activity, while telecommunications continued to see job losses.

Average Hourly Earnings

  • Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents or 0.2% to $33.82 in August.
  • Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.3%.
  • Average hourly earnings for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents or 0.2% to $29.00.

Summary and Comparative Data

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides insights into the current state of the job market and overall economic recovery. Despite an increase in nonfarm payroll employment by 187,000 jobs, the rise in the unemployment rate to 3.8% indicates ongoing challenges.

Different worker groups experienced varying impacts, and certain industries showed growth while others faced difficulties. Monitoring future reports will be crucial to understanding the trajectory of the labor market’s recovery.

IndustryEmployment Change in August 2023Percent Change
Leisure and Hospitality+40,000+0.2%
Social Assistance+26,000+0.3%
Professional Services+19,000+0.1%


The latest employment report reveals a mixed picture of the U.S. labor market. While nonfarm payroll employment increased by 187,000 jobs in August, the unemployment rate rose to 3.8 percent. This indicates that more individuals entered the labor force in search of job opportunities, potentially driven by improved economic conditions.

However, the increase in the number of unemployed persons by 514,000 raises concerns about the pace of recovery and the overall health of the job market.

It’s important to note that the rise in the unemployment rate was accompanied by higher rates for adult men, Whites, and Asians, while remaining relatively stable for other groups. This suggests that certain segments of the population may be facing more challenges in finding employment.

Although there were job gains in sectors like healthcare, leisure and hospitality, and social assistance, the declines in employment within transportation and warehousing, as well as professional and business services, are noteworthy.

These shifts reflect the ongoing volatility and changes in demand across different industries, which can impact overall employment figures.

Additionally, the revisions to employment figures for June and July, which were adjusted downward, raise questions about the accuracy of previous reports and highlight the need for regularly updated and reliable data.

Overall, this report shows a mixed bag of results, with both positive and negative indicators. It is essential to closely monitor future employment reports to assess the trajectory of the labor market and evaluate the effectiveness of economic policies in promoting sustained job growth and reducing unemployment rates.

Market Reaction

The US Dollar experienced a modest selling pressure in response to the US jobs report on today’s date. The US Dollar Index was down 0.3% at 103.30.

Currency PairPercentage Change
USD to EUR-0.25%
USD to GBP-0.26%
USD to CAD0.20%
USD to AUD-0.47%
USD to JPY-0.62%
USD to NZD-0.55%
USD to CHF-0.35%


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  • Phyllis Wangui

    Phyllis Wangui is a Financial Analyst and News Editor with qualifications in accounting and economics. She has over 20 years of banking and accounting experience, during which she has gained extensive knowledge of the forex, stock news, stock market, forex analysis, cryptos and foreign exchange industries. Phyllis is an avid commentator on these topics and loves to share her insights with others through financial publications and social media platforms.

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