Economic Snapshot: Unemployment rate dips to 5.1 percent

Employment gains continue to increase slowly month-by-month but are still moving in the right direction. This month, unemployment dipped marginally after a decline in July.

Employment situation

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 173,000 in August and the unemployment rate decreased to 5.1 percent. The number of unemployed persons declined to 8.0 million.

Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.0 percentage points and 1.5 million people, respectively.

The number of persons unemployed for less than 5 weeks decreased by 393,000 to 2.1 million in August and the number of long-term unemployed held at 2.2 million. The long-term unemployed accounted for 27.7 percent of all unemployed persons. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 779,000.

The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons was little changed in August at 6.5 million. There were 1.8 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August, which is down by 329,000 persons from the previous year. Among the marginally attached, there were 624,000 discouraged workers in August, down by 151,000 from August 2014.


The number of job openings on the last business day of June was 5.2 million, little changed from May, and the job openings rate remained at 3.6 percent for the third consecutive month.

The number of job openings increased over the 12 months ending in June for total nonfarm and total private. The number of job openings for government was little changed.

The number of hires was 5.2 million in June, little changed from May, and the hires rate was 3.7 percent. Over the 12 months ending in June, the number of hires increased for total nonfarm, total private and government.

There were 4.9 million total separations in June, relatively unchanged from May, and the separations rate was 3.5 percent. Within separations, there were 2.7 million quits in June and the quits rate was 1.9 percent. The number of quits increased over the 12 months ending in June for total nonfarm, total private and government.

Small business optimism

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index gained 0.5 points to 95.9. Five components posted gains, three declined and two remained unchanged.

Business owners added a net 0.13 workers per firm in recent months, an improvement from July’s reading of 0.05 workers. Fifty-six percent reported hiring or trying to hire, but 48 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

Fifteen percent reported using temporary workers, down 1 point from July. Twenty-nine percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, which is up 4 points and matches the highest reading in 2015 so far. A net 13 percent of small business owners plan to create new jobs, up 1 point from July.

The net percent of all owners reporting higher nominal sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months improved by 3 percentage points to a net negative 3 percent. Fourteen percent cited weak sales as their top business problem, up 4 points from July. Expected real sales volumes posted a 1-point gain, rising to a seasonally adjusted net 7 percent of owners expecting gains.

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