Between February and July of this year, the U.S. economy added over 200,000 jobs a month, every month. The half-year streak was the longest since the Clinton era and renewed hopes that the job market was advancing with increasing vigor. Alas, the streak did not continue.
The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 142,000 jobs in August, far short of expectations. The overall unemployment rate ticked slightly lower to 6.1% – still hovering around a six-year low.
Once again, public-sector layoffs did not drag down the overall employment figures. Though jobs reports over the last few years have shown monthly government job losses, in August, the private sector added 134,000 while the public sector added 8,000. The latter may not sound like much, but after several years in which that total was negative, it’s at least somewhat heartening.
These figures are clearly disappointing, but the larger question is whether the report is an aberration or a warning sign of a larger problem. For what it’s worth, the August data will be revised twice more – today’s total is a preliminary figure – and in previous years, August job numbers have been revised up quite a bit, so today’s news should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
As for the revisions, June’s totals were revised down from 298,000 to 267,000, while July’s figures were revised up, from 209,000 to 212,000. Combined, that’s a loss of 28,000.
All told, over the last 12 months, the U.S. economy has added over 2.48 million jobs overall and 2.44 million in the private sector. What’s more, August was the 54th consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth – the longest on record.
At this point, with the year more than half over, 2014 is still currently on track to be the best year for U.S. job creation since 1999.
Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.