Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release
Last Modified Date: September 04, 2009
Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Friday, September 4, 2009
Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 216,000 in August, and
the unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent. Since the recession
began in December 2007, payroll employment has dropped by 6.9
million, and the unemployment rate has increased by 4.8
percentage points. Job losses have moderated in many industry
sectors in recent months.
Construction employment fell by 65,000 in August, about in
line with the trend since May. From November to April,
construction job losses averaged 117,000 per month. Since
December 2007, employment in the industry has fallen by 1.4
million. Thus far in 2009, job losses in nonresidential and
heavy construction combined have exceeded losses in the
residential components. In 2008, the residential components
accounted for a majority of construction's decline.
Employment in manufacturing declined by 63,000 in August.
The largest job losses were in motor vehicles and parts, computer
and electronic products, and fabricated metal products. Factory
employment has declined by 2.0 million since the start of the
recession, although losses have moderated over the last 2 months.
In August, job losses also continued in financial activities
and wholesale trade. The employment declines in both industries
have been smaller since May. Over the last 4 months, temporary
help employment was down an average of 11,000 per month, compared
with an average decline of 69,000 for the first 4 months of the
Over the month, employment continued to increase in health
care, with gains in ambulatory care and in nursing and
residential care facilities. Health care has continued to add
jobs during the recession, albeit at a slower pace in 2009.
Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector rose by 6 cents in August to
$18.65. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have
risen by 2.6 percent. From July 2008 to July 2009, the Consumer
Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers declined
by 2.4 percent.
Turning now to some measures from our household survey, the
unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage point to 9.7 percent in
August. It had been little changed in June and July, after
increasing by 0.4 or 0.5 percentage point in each of the prior 6
months. When the recession began in December 2007, the jobless
rate was 4.9 percent. A total of 14.9 million persons were
unemployed in August, about twice the number at the start of the
The number of long-term unemployed remained high. In
August, 5.0 million people had been jobless for more than 6
months, nearly quadruple the number at the start of the
The employment-population ratio--the proportion of the
population that has a job--continued to trend down in August. At
59.2 percent, it has declined by 3.5 percentage points since the
Among the employed, there were 9.1 million persons working
part time in August who would have preferred full-time work. The
number of such workers has nearly doubled since the start of the
recession but has been little changed since March.
In summary, nonfarm payroll employment fell by 216,000 in
August, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent.