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

United States payrolls swelled and the unemployment dropped to single digits in August as labor conditions continued to improve in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 1.8 million, and the jobless rate decreased 1.8 points to 8.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in July and June were revised downward a total of 39,000. Payrolls have increased on average more than 2.6 million a month over the past three months.

Still, nonfarm employment remains 11.5 million below February and the onset of the pandemic in the U.S.

For August, the number of people counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work fell 2.8 million to 13.6 million. Those on temporary layoffs decreased 3.1 million to 6.2 million.

Another 7.6 million people were counted among those working part time because their hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate rose three-tenths of a point to 61.7 percent, but remained below its February level.

Payroll gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 249,000 in retail trades, 197,000 in business and professional services, 174,000 in leisure and hospitality, 147,000 in education and health services and 78,000 in transportation and warehousing. Manufacturing payrolls grew 29,000.

Government employment increased 344,000 with the hiring of 238,000 temporary census workers.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls lengthened a tenth of an hour to 34.6 hours. The manufacturing workweek increased three-tenths of an hour to 40 hours.

Average hourly wages for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls increased 11 cents to $29.47.