August 2021 Job Summary Report

  • On September 9, 2021

Another year begins for the education sector, but how does that impact the national employment and the challenges it faces? Staff Solve strives to assist employers and job seekers with information and process hiring, but the overall economic picture of employment trends in the United States and possible factors involved. 

National employment rose by 235,000 in August, causing the unemployment rate to decline by 0.2% to a total of 5.2%. For this year, monthly job growth has averaged 586,000 per month. The rate of teenagers being employed, however, has decreased as school begins again as teens leave their seasonal employment opportunities. 

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers declined by 443,000 to 2.5 million in August. The number of persons on temporary layoff, at 1.3 million, was essentially unchanged for the month when compared to July’s data. Those jobless for 27 weeks or more decreased by 246,000, and long-term unemployed accounted for 37.4% of the total unemployed. The number of persons jobless less than 5 weeks, at 2.1 million, was little changed. The labor force participation rate, at 61.7% in August, was unchanged over the month and has remained within a narrow range of 61.4% to 61.7% since June 2020. In August, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons, at 4.5 million, was essentially unchanged. However, there were 4.4 million persons in this category in February 2020, which is hopeful of achieving pre-pandemic data before the coronavirus took its toll on the job market. 

In August, 13.4% of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, a little change from the prior month. 5.6 million people 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. Among those who reported in August that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 13.9% received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, up from 9.1% in the prior month. 

For the month of August, notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other services. Employment in professional and business services increased by 74,000, with other sectors also noticing gains such as 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). Transportation and warehousing added 53,000 jobs, bringing employment in the industry slightly above (+22,000) its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. 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. Air transportation also added jobs (+11,000), while transit and ground passenger transportation–which includes school buses–lost jobs (-8,000).

Employment increased by 40,000 in private education, declined by 21,000 in state government education, and changed little in local government education (-6,000). In all three industries, these employment changes followed job 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. 

Manufacturing added 37,000 jobs, with gains in motor vehicles and parts (+24,000) and fabricated metal products (+7,000). The other services industry added 37,000 jobs while personal and laundry services added 19,000 and in repair and maintenance added 9,000 jobs. Information employment increased by 17,000 in August, reflecting a gain in data processing, hosting, and related services (+12,000). Financial activities rose by 16,000 over the month, with most of the gain occurring in real estate (+11,000). Mining added 6,000 jobs in August, reflecting a gain in support activities for mining (+4,000). Mining employment has risen by 55,000 since a trough in August 2020 but is 96,000 below a peak in January 2019.

Employment in retail trade declined by 29,000 in August, with losses in food and beverage stores (-23,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (-13,000). Leisure and hospitality were unchanged, after increasing by an average of 350,000 per month over the prior 6 months. However, job gains in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+36,000) were more than offset by a loss in food services and drinking places (-42,000). Little change was seen in other major industries, including construction, wholesale trade, and health care. 

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 17 cents to $30.73 in August, following increases in the prior 4 months. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 14 cents to $25.99. The data for recent months suggest that the 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 recent trends in average hourly earnings.

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