U.S. labor estimates: Jobs up, jobless rate down

Employers continue to add jobs even as the jobless rate slips in the United States.

According to the latest government estimates, nonfarm payrolls increased 173,000 in August with gains spread out among a number of industry sectors.

The unemployment rate retreated two-tenths of a point to 5.1 percent, the lowest level since March 2008.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in July and June were revised upward a total of 44,000 to 245,000 for each month.

Given the latest numbers, monthly payroll gains have averaged 247,000 over the past year, but 221,000 over the past three months.

The number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more held steady at 2.2 million in August. Another 6.5 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been cut back or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The civilian labor force participation rate remained unchanged for a third straight month at 62.6 percent, the lowest level since October 1977.

For August, health care payrolls increased 56,000, while professional and business services added a net 33,000 jobs. Employment grew 26,000 at food services and drinking places even as the financial activities sector added 19,000 positions.

Manufacturers shed 17,000 jobs in August, while payrolls declined another 9,000 in the mining sector.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls edged up a tenth of an hour to 34.6 hours in August. The manufacturing workweek held steady at 40.8 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 8 cents to $25.09. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.2 percent.