August 2016 National Jobs Update

The national unemployment remained at 4.9% in August 2016, the same as it was in both June and July of this year. However, jobless rolls did increase slightly by 79,000 individuals over the month, with total unemployment rising to 7,849,000, but not enough to affect the overall national unemployment rate.

However, this increase can, once again, be attributed to significant month-to-month growth in the national labor force, which rose by 176,000 individuals in August 2016. Typically, unemployment levels will rise when there is growth in the labor force, being that it is a result of more individuals working and/or, as it relates to unemployment growth, more jobless individuals entering/re-entering the workforce to search for employment. As a result of this increase, the national labor force is now at an all-time high since President Obama took office, with the monthly growth of 176,000 individuals pushing the total labor force level to 159,463,000. Year-over-year, the national labor force has grown by 2.4 million individuals and is up by more than 5.2 million individuals since President Obama took office in January 2009. Even with this growth, the national unemployment rate remained down by 0.2% year-over-year (5.1% to 4.9%) and almost 3% less than it was in January 2009 (7.8% to 4.9%).

The fact that the national labor force has grown significantly while unemployment has dropped can only mean one thing… job growth. In August 2016 alone, the national economy added 151,000 new jobs, with total employment rising to 144,598,000, also its highest level since President Obama took office. This represents a continued positive trend for the national economy, with August 2016 being the 71st consecutive month of employment growth. When the increase in August is factored into the year-over-year tally, over 2.4 million new jobs have been added, with job growth topping over 200,000 in six of the last 12 months. On average, the national economy has added 204,000 new jobs a month over the past year. What’s more, total national employment now stands 6.1 million jobs greater than it was at the start of the recession (Dec. 2007), and a jaw-dropping 10.5 million jobs have been added since President Obama took office.

As is usual, state job totals for August 2016 will not be released for another couple of weeks. As of the most recent statistics available, the commonwealth appears to be getting back on the right track after a stretch of rising unemployment and minimal job growth. Although the state’s unemployment rate remains at a high of 5.6% for the year, this is primarily due to growth in its labor force which is an encouraging sign for the economy. Year-to-date (Jan. 16 – Jul. 16), the commonwealth’s labor force has grown by 70,771 individuals, and growth is even more impressive when looking back to the start of Governor Wolf’s term in January 2015, rising by more than 105,000 individuals (more than triple the labor force growth of 33,300 seen over Gov. Corbett’s entire term). This robust labor force growth will bolster employment levels in the state (individuals entering/re-entering workforce), with results already being realized. Year-over-year employment growth in the commonwealth stands at 58,000 new jobs added. Employment growth since Governor Wolf took office (Jan. 2015 – Jul. 2016) is even more impressive, with 74,000 new jobs added. The addition of 74,000 jobs since January 2015 ranks PA 41st out of all 50 states, and while not ideal, it does represent improvement from PA’s ranking of 48th out of all 50 states in the same survey over Governor Corbett’s term.

(Seasonally Adjusted)

(National Stats)                    Aug. 2015               Jul. 2016              Aug. 2016

Civilian Labor Force              157,061,000            159,287,000           159,463,000

Employment                        142,151,000            144,447,000           144,598,000

Unemployment                      8,018,000                 7,770,000               7,849,000

Unemployment Rate                  5.1%                       4.9%                     4.9%

*Employment totals referenced are for non-farm jobs only, which is the commonly used measurement for employment.