State of the Labor Market

August 2019 Jobs Report: Take a Breath, but Not a Big One

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The US economy added 130,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate was flat at 3.7%.

After this report, we can all take a breath, but not a big one. While we are still seeing many of the disconcerting trends of the past few months, the labor market continues to grow at a healthy rate. 

Before assuming that the total job growth number in August is skewed because of Census hiring, remember that these are real jobs taken by real workers. Even if you remove government hiring, which accounts for around 34,000 jobs, this is still a number that is high enough to keep up with population growth. This month’s report reflects a slowing labor market but not necessarily one heading straight for a recession. 

Wage growth strongest for low-wage industries

At this point in the expansion, we’d expect wage growth to pick up, but it is continuing to stall. In fact, wage growth continues to be strongest for workers in lower-wage industries. Labor force participation grew in the month, signaling a labor market still drawing workers off the sidelines. Job seekers are still benefiting from this job market, but let’s not count on this lasting forever.


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