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BLS Jobs Report: 173,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment Falls to 5.1 Percent


Prior to this morning’s release from the labor department, economists were predicting the addition of 218,000 jobs. Today’s Employment Situation Summary fell well short of that, coming in at only 173,000 jobs. While the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent, the labor force participation rate remained close to its 1970s low, at 62.6 percent. It wasn’t all bad news, however.


(Photo Credit: brownpau/Flickr)

The number of people marginally attached to the labor force was 1.8 million, a decline of 329,000 over the past year. These workers, who want to work and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months, don’t count in the tally of unemployed persons, because they haven’t looked for work in the four weeks prior to the report.

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Discouraged workers, the segment of marginally attached workers who are not looking for jobs because they don’t expect to find them, also declined over the past year, by 151,000. Discouraged workers current number 624,000. The other marginally attached workers were not actively pursuing employment because of other reasons, such as family responsibilities.

Also, while the number of long-term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or longer, held steady at 2.2 million for August, long-term unemployment over the past 12 months declined 779,000. The number of worker unemployed for less than five weeks fell by 393,000 to 2.1 million last month.

Average hourly earnings grew by 8 cents in August, to $25.09. In July, wages grew by 6 cents an hour. In the past 12 months, wages have increased 2.2 percent. The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for all employed U.S. workers, forecasts a 0.4 percent increase in pay for Q3 2015.

In addition, July and June’s tallies were revised upward, from +231,000 to +245,000 for June, and from + 215,000 to +245,000 for July.

“Look past the August payroll number at the upward revisions in June and July to get a true sense of this report,” Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at, tells Samantha Scharf at Forbes.

Several industries saw growth last month, including healthcare (+41,000), social assistance (+16,000), financial activities (+19,000), professional and business services (+33,000), and food services and drinking places (+26,000).

Manufacturing declined by 17,000 jobs last month, and has shown little change over the past 12 months. Employment in mining continued its fall in August, losing 9,000 jobs. Losses in mining were primarily in support activities. Mining has declined by 90,000 jobs since the end of 2014.

Other industries remained flat, including construction, transportation and warehousing, government, retail trade, and wholesale trade.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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