Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
- The Employment Situation
Nonfarm payrolls rose just 96,000 in August, following downward revisions to June and July payrolls that totaled 41,000 (with half of that coming from government payrolls). Over the past three months, nonfarm payrolls are averaging a monthly gain of 94,000, a slight slowing from earlier in the year and moderately off its pace of 153,000 per month in 2011. Broad industry performance was mixed (perhaps with a downward tilt). On the plus side, leisure and hospitality rose 34,000 in August and have been posting accelerating job growth over the past four months. Healthcare payrolls continued their acyclical climb, rising 22,000 in August. Retail trade payrolls, which had declined in each of the previous three months, rose 6,000 during the month. On the other side, goods-producing payrolls remained on the mat, slipping 16,000 in August. Much of that decline, however, came from auto sector—which failed to follow its usual seasonal retooling pattern—and should be regarded as noise. Excluding autos, manufacturing employment still fell roughly 7,000. Also, construction and mining payrolls were essentially unchanged for the second consecutive month. On the household side of the report, the unemployment rate ticked down 0.2 percentage points to 8.1 percent. However, this “improvement” is misleading. The tick down in unemployment was entirely due to a labor force exodus (minus 368,000) which left the labor force participation rate 0.2 percentage points lower at 63.5 percent. Perhaps more importantly, the employment-to-population ratio edged down a tenth to 58.3 percent (its lowest level since last August).