Job Growth Slower Than Expected in August as Only 235,000 Jobs Added

Washington, DC…Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 586,000. In August, notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other services. Employment in retail trade declined over the month.

Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Aug.
Change from:

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

260,558 261,338 261,469 261,611 142

Civilian labor force

160,818 161,086 161,347 161,537 190

Participation rate

61.7 61.6 61.7 61.7 0.0


147,276 151,602 152,645 153,154 509

Employment-population ratio

56.5 58.0 58.4 58.5 0.1


13,542 9,484 8,702 8,384 -318

Unemployment rate

8.4 5.9 5.4 5.2 -0.2

Not in labor force

99,740 100,253 100,123 100,074 -49

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

8.4 5.9 5.4 5.2 -0.2

Adult men (20 years and over)

8.0 5.9 5.4 5.1 -0.3

Adult women (20 years and over)

8.3 5.5 5.0 4.8 -0.2

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

16.4 9.9 9.6 11.2 1.6


7.4 5.2 4.8 4.5 -0.3

Black or African American

12.8 9.2 8.2 8.8 0.6


10.6 5.8 5.3 4.6 -0.7

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

10.5 7.4 6.6 6.4 -0.2

Total, 25 years and over

7.5 5.4 4.8 4.5 -0.3

Less than a high school diploma

12.6 10.2 9.5 7.8 -1.7

High school graduates, no college

9.8 7.0 6.3 6.0 -0.3

Some college or associate degree

8.0 5.8 5.0 5.1 0.1

Bachelor’s degree and higher

5.3 3.5 3.1 2.8 -0.3

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

10,248 5,787 4,960 4,468 -492

Job leavers

595 942 930 822 -108


2,104 2,298 2,287 2,487 200

New entrants

549 494 463 512 49

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,312 1,981 2,257 2,083 -174

5 to 14 weeks

3,213 2,166 1,861 2,066 205

15 to 26 weeks

6,536 1,329 1,174 1,164 -10

27 weeks and over

1,593 3,985 3,425 3,179 -246

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

7,533 4,627 4,483 4,469 -14

Slack work or business conditions

6,181 3,430 2,965 3,183 218

Could only find part-time work

1,120 1,007 1,116 1,032 -84

Part time for noneconomic reasons

18,630 20,337 20,087 20,359 272

Persons not in the labor force

Marginally attached to the labor force

2,061 1,830 1,872 1,577 -295

Discouraged workers

552 617 507 392 -115

NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey 
measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The
establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For more
information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see
the Technical Note.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2 percent in August. The number
of unemployed persons edged down to 8.4 million, following a large decrease in July. Both
measures are down considerably from their highs at the end of the February-April 2020 
recession. However, they remain above their levels prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) 
pandemic (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively, in February 2020). (See table A-1. 
See the box note at the end of this news release for more information about how the 
household survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.) 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (5.1 percent) and 
Whites (4.5 percent) declined in August, while the rate for teenagers (11.2 percent) 
increased. The jobless rates for adult women (4.8 percent), Blacks (8.8 percent), Asians
(4.6 percent), and Hispanics (6.4 percent) showed little change over the month. (See 
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) 

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers declined by 443,000 to 2.5 
million in August but is 1.2 million higher than in February 2020. The number of persons 
on temporary layoff, at 1.3 million, was essentially unchanged in August. This measure is
down considerably from the high of 18.0 million in April 2020 but is 502,000 above the 
February 2020 level. The number of reentrants to the labor force increased by 200,000 in 
August to 2.5 million. (Reentrants are persons who previously worked but were not in the
labor force prior to beginning their job search.) (See table A-11.) 

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 
246,000 in August to 3.2 million but is 2.1 million higher than in February 2020. These 
long-term unemployed accounted for 37.4 percent of the total unemployed in August. The 
number of persons jobless less than 5 weeks, at 2.1 million, was little changed. 
(See table A-12.) 

The labor force participation rate, at 61.7 percent in August, was unchanged over the 
month and has remained within a narrow range of 61.4 percent to 61.7 percent since June 
2020. The participation rate is 1.6 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The 
employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, was little changed in August. This measure 
is up from its low of 51.3 percent in April 2020 but remains below the figure of 61.1 
percent in February 2020. (See table A-1.) 

In August, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.5 million,
was essentially unchanged. There were 4.4 million persons in this category in February 
2020. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part
time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. 
(See table A-8.) 

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job declined by 835,000
in August to 5.7 million but remains higher than the level in February 2020 (5.0 million).
These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking 
for work during the last 4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job. (See table A-1.) 

Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally 
attached to the labor force, at 1.6 million in August, decreased by 295,000 over the 
month. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job 
sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the
survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who 
believed that no jobs were available for them, was 392,000 in August, down by 115,000 from
the previous month. (See Summary table A.) 

Household Survey Supplemental Data 

In August, 13.4 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus 
pandemic, little changed from the prior month. These data refer to employed persons who
teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically 
because of the pandemic. 

In August, 5.6 million persons 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. This measure
is up from 5.2 million in July. Among those who reported in August that they were unable 
to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 13.9 percent received at 
least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, up from 9.1 percent in the 
prior month. 

Among those not in the labor force in August, 1.5 million persons were prevented from 
looking for work due to the pandemic, little changed from July. (To be counted as 
unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either actively looking for work or on 
temporary layoff.) 

These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey beginning in 
May 2020 to help gauge the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. The data are not
seasonally adjusted. Tables with estimates from the supplemental questions for all months
are available online at

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August, following increases of 1.1 
million in July and 962,000 in June. Nonfarm employment has risen by 17.0 million since
April 2020 but is down by 5.3 million, or 3.5 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in 
February 2020. In August, notable job gains occurred in professional and business 
services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other 
services. Employment in retail trade declined over the month. (See table B-1. See the box
note at the end of this news release for more information about how the establishment 
survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.) 

Employment in professional and business services increased by 74,000 in August. Employment
rose in 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). Since February 2020, employment in professional 
and business services is down by 468,000, over half of which is in temporary help services

Transportation and warehousing added 53,000 jobs in August, 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).

In August, 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. Since 
February 2020, employment is down by 159,000 in private education, by 186,000 in state 
government education, and by 220,000 in local government education.

Manufacturing added 37,000 jobs in August, with gains in motor vehicles and parts (+24,000)
and fabricated metal products (+7,000). Employment in manufacturing is down by 378,000 from
its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

The other services industry added 37,000 jobs in August, but employment is 189,000 lower 
than in February 2020. In August, employment rose in personal and laundry services 
(+19,000) and in repair and maintenance (+9,000). 

Employment in information increased by 17,000 in August, reflecting a gain in data 
processing, hosting, and related services (+12,000). Employment in information is down by
150,000 since February 2020.  

Employment in financial activities rose by 16,000 over the month, with most of the gain
occurring in real estate (+11,000). Employment in financial activities is down by 29,000
since February 2020. 

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). Retail trade
employment is down by 285,000 since February 2020.

In August, employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged, after increasing by an 
average of 350,000 per month over the prior 6 months. In August, a job gain in arts, 
entertainment, and recreation (+36,000) was more than offset by a loss in food services 
and drinking places (-42,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.7 
million, or 10.0 percent, since February 2020.

In August, employment showed little change 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. In August, 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. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

In August, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 34.7 
hours for the third consecutive month. In manufacturing, the average workweek fell by 0.2
hour over the month to 40.3 hours, and overtime remained at 3.2 hours. The average 
workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 
unchanged at 34.2 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised up by 24,000, from 
+938,000 to +962,000, and the change for July was revised up by 110,000, from +943,000 
to +1,053,000. With these revisions, employment in June and July combined is 134,000 
higher than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports 
received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and
from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)

The Employment Situation for September is scheduled to be released on Friday, October 8,
2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

|											|
|              Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on August 2021 Household and               |
|                                Establishment Survey Data                              |
|											|
| Data collection for both surveys was affected by the pandemic. In the establishment 	|
| survey, more data continued to be collected by web than in months prior to the 	|
| pandemic. In the household survey, for the safety of both interviewers and 		|
| respondents, in-person interviews were conducted only when telephone interviews could |
| not be done. 										|
|											|
| As in previous months, some workers affected by the pandemic who should have been 	|
| classified as unemployed on temporary layoff were instead misclassified as employed 	|
| but not at work. However, the share of responses that may have been misclassified was |
| highest in the early months of the pandemic and has been considerably lower in recent |
| months. Since March 2020, BLS has published an estimate of what the unemployment rate |
| might have been had misclassified workers been included among the unemployed.		|
| Repeating this same approach, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August 	|
| 2021 would have been 0.3 percentage point higher than reported. However, this 	|
| represents the upper bound of our estimate of misclassification and probably 		|
| overstates the size of the misclassification error. 					|
|											|
| More information about the impact of the pandemic on the two surveys is available at  |
|			|