PeopleScout Jobs Report Analysis – August 2021

The U.S. economy gained a disappointing 235,000 jobs in August. Women accounted for only 11.9% of those gains. Economists say the disappointing numbers show the impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2%. Year-over-year wage growth was at 3.1%.

U.S. jobs report infographic

The Numbers

235,000: The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in August.

5.2%: The unemployment rate fell to 5.2%.

3.1%: Wages rose 3.1% over the past year.

The Good

The 5.2% unemployment rate is good news, as economists had expected the rate to fall to about that level, according to the New York Times. Additionally, the gain of 235,000 jobs would have been good news in a pre-pandemic year. While economists had predicted a bigger jump in jobs numbers, the economy is still growing despite the growing impact of the Delta variant. The manufacturing, transportation and warehousing and finance sectors saw significant growth.

The Bad

August’s report was largely disappointing, as economists had predicted an increase of 720,000 jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal. The biggest disappointment came in the industries most strongly impacted by the pandemic, leisure and hospitality, which saw no growth in August, and retail, which shed 28,500 jobs. Women were also left behind in August, accounting for only 11.9% of August’s job growth.

The Unknown

The most obvious culprit for August’s disappointing report is the surging Delta variant, which is driving increased cases, hospitalizations and deaths around the country. Some jurisdictions have added new mask mandates or restrictions to slow the spread. MarketWatch also reports a decline in flying, hotel bookings and restaurant reservations.

However, despite rising wages and high volumes of job postings, employers report difficulty filling roles. Economists have expected more women to reenter the labor force in September as children return to school, and expiring federal unemployment benefits could also push some Americans back to work. However, millions of workers near retirement age left the workforce in 2020 and are less likely to return. Economists say both factors are likely impacting August’s report, and they will be important to watch through the end of the year.

Post by Nicole Fuqua