Employment and Unemployment

August  2017 Jobs Report

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 209,000 in July (Total Nonfarm Payroll),which exceeded market expectations. The unemployment rate decreased to 4.3 percent.  (Civilian Unemployment Rate).

Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 53,000 while professional and business services added 49,000 jobs. Employment increased in health care (39,000 jobs) with job gains occurring in ambulatory health care services (+30,000) and hospitals (+7,000).

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

The number of unemployed persons experienced minimal changes at 7.0 million while the labor force participation rate (Labor Force Participation Rate) edged up slightly to 62.9 percent. 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.0 percent), adult women (4.0 percent), teenagers (13.2 percent), Whites (3.8 percent) showed little or no change in July. African Americans (7.4 percent), Asians (3.8 percent), and Latinos (5.1 percent) experienced slight increases in their unemployment rates

Seasonally adjusted 

June 2017

July 2017



Number Employed

231 million

209 million

-22 million

Number Unemployed

6.97 million


-0.16 million

Unemployment Rate





Overall Unemployment Rate                                        
















Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation.

The July 2017 labor underutilization rate for those unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed working part-time for economic reasons, or U-6, was basically unchanged at 8.6% (U-6 Rate). 

 A Note of Caution

The unemployment rate is a broad measure of how workers are faring in the economy (although it tends to be a lag or delay).  The unemployment rate as generally reported does not count discouraged workers, nor does it measure under-employment, for example, workers who want a full-time job but can only find part-time work (see What is Unemployment).  There are alternative measures to account for unemployed or underemployed workers.  One measure termed “U-6” by the BLS increases the unemployment rate by several percentage points.  However, even an adjusted unemployment rate does not capture the quality of jobs in the economy. This last point is particularly important to keep in mind, given the growth of non-standard (temporary and/or contingent) jobs in the U.S. economy (see How Healthy is the labor market Really?).  


Updated 8/04/2017 by IAM&AW Strategic Resources Department


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