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
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.