September 15, 2015 – The U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in seven and a half years but job growth fell short of expectations, offering mixed signals about the economy, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Total employment increased by 173,000 in August, which is less than most economists had predicted. Currently eight million remain unemployed in the U.S.
Healthcare and social assistance added 56,000 jobs in August. Healthcare employment increased by 41,000 over the month, with job growth occurring in ambulatory health care services (+21,000) and hospitals (+16,000). Employment rose by 16,000 in social assistance, which includes child day care services and services for the elderly and disabled. Over the year, employment has risen by 457,000 in healthcare and by 107,000 in social assistance.
Financial activities employment increased by 19,000, with job gains in real estate (+8,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+5,000). Over the year, employment in financial activities has grown by 170,000.
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in August (+33,000) and has increased by 641,000 over the year. Employment in food services and drinking places continued on an upward trend in August (+26,000), in line with its average monthly gain of 31,000 over the prior 12 months.
Manufacturing employment decreased by 17,000, after changing little in July (+12,000). Job losses occurred in a number of component industries, including fabricated metal products and food manufacturing (-7,000 each). These losses more than offset gains in motor vehicles and parts (+6,000) and in miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing (+4,000). So far in 2015, overall employment in manufacturing has shown little net change.
Employment also fell in mining (-9,000), with losses concentrated in support activities for mining (-7,000). Since reaching a peak in December 2014, mining employment has declined by 90,000.
Other recent reports found similar findings. Manpower’s latest Employment Outlook Survey reported that U.S. employers are predicting the strongest fourth quarter hiring blitz since the final quarter of 2007. A Bloomberg BNA survey on hiring projections and job security trends found that employment trends are pointing to an expanding workforce.
Overseas, particularly in the U.K., similar findings can be found. CareerBuilder’s 2015 mid-year job forecast also found that nearly half of employers say they are planning to hire full-time, permanent staff over the next six months.
“There’s a favorable dynamic happening in the labor market today,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Companies are feeling more financially secure and increasing their headcount. This is creating a more competitive hiring environment, which is having a positive impact on wages and the labor force participation rate.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media