BLS Employment Situation Report: August 2012
Friday, September 07, 2012
Total employment in the U.S. grew by 96,000 positions in August, according to the Labor Department, while the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 to 8.1 percent. Employment growth was below expectations and while the unemployment rate fell, it did so mostly as a result of falling participation. Although August's was a stronger report than many throughout the summer, it showed a jobs market that is still growing slowly.
As has happened through most of the recovery, there were also strong demographic divisions in the Labor Department's numbers. In August, total employment of those with a bachelor's degree grew to 46.4 million, its highest level ever and up more than 2 million positions from when employment bottomed out in early 2010. Total employment for those with some college or an associate's degree reached 34.9 million in August, about 400,000 off from its highs in mid-2008 and up nearly 1.3 million from its 2010 lows.
Predictably, most of the employment growth in August came from those sectors in which such degrees are helpful, if not required. Computer systems design and related services firms added 10,600 positions, insurance carriers added 5,900, management and technical consulting services firms added 8,700 people, and ambulatory healthcare services added 14,200 jobs. On the goods producing side of the economy, there were slight losses in many areas, but few substantial declines aside from auto-parts manufacturing, which lost 7,500 positions, or nonresidential specialty trade contractors, which lost 6,400 positions.
That job seekers are giving up on their job searches at a high rate is not a positive development. Yet, it doesn't counteract the positives of a still-growing labor force. The 96,000 jobs created are enough to balance out population growth, but not enough to meaningfully lower the general unemployment rate. At the same time, job creation for those with college degrees is at such a rate that it is meaningfully improving the unemployment rate for that category. The management, business, and financial operations unemployment rate has fallen from 4.6 percent to 3.7 percent in the last year.
In general, the Labor Department's most recent report shows a still bifurcated workforce in which those with advanced educations are finding a growing amount of opportunity while those without any college education are finding fewer and fewer opportunities. Of all of those over 25 years old, 72.4 percent with a bachelor's degree have a job today, while for those without any college, that figure fell to just 51.5 percent in August.