Where The August Jobs Were: Who Is Hiring And Who Is Firing

While the headline payrolls print was solid, rising by 1.371 million, and the Household Survey showed an even more remarkable increase as the number of employed Americans surged by 3.756 million helping send the unemployment rate sharply lower (as discussed earlier), a look at the composition of job gains reveals that below the "Great Job Numbers" surface as defined by president Trump, there was less than meets the eye.

For one, the one-time impact of the Census had an outlier effect on the August payrolls, due to 238,000 temporary jobs hired for the 2020 Census. This led to a 251,000 jump in Federal workers, and a near record 344,000 increase in total government jobs. This means that government jobs were a whopping 25% of all job gains in August.

Of course it wasn't just government jobs, so here is a full breakdown of which sectors were responsible for the impressive August job gains:

  • Retail trade added 249,000 jobs in August, with almost half the growth occurring in general merchandise stores (+116,000). Notable gains also occurred in motor vehicle and parts dealers (+22,000), electronics and appliance stores (+21,000), and miscellaneous store retailers (+17,000). Employment in retail trade is 655,000 lower than in February.
  • Professional and business services employment increased by 197,000. More than half of the gain occurred in temporary help services (+107,000). Architectural and engineering services (+14,000), business support services (+13,000), and computer systems design and related services (+13,000) also added jobs over the month. Employment in professional and business services is 1.5 million below its February level.
  • Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 174,000 in August, with about three-fourths of the gain occurring in food services and drinking places (+134,000). Despite job gains totaling 3.6 million over the last 4 months, employment in food services and drinking places is down by 2.5 million since February.
  • Education and health employment services increased by 147,000 but is 1.5 million below February's level. Health care employment increased by 75,000 over the month, with gains in offices of physicians (+27,000), offices of dentists (+22,000), hospitals (+14,000), and home health care services (+12,000). Elsewhere in health care, job losses continued in nursing and residential care facilities (-14,000). Employment in private education rose by 57,000 over the month.
  • Transportation and warehousing rose by 78,000 in August, with gains in warehousing and storage (+34,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+11,000), and truck transportation (+10,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing is down by 381,000 since February.
  • The other services industry added 74,000 jobs in August, reflecting gains in membership associations and organizations (+31,000), repair and maintenance (+29,000), and personal and laundry services (+14,000). Employment in other services is 531,000 lower than in February.
  • Financial activities added 36,000 jobs in August, with most of the growth in real estate and rental and leasing (+23,000). Employment in financial activities is down by 191,000 since February.
  • Manufacturing employment rose by 29,000, with gains concentrated in the nondurable goods component (+27,000). Despite gains in recent months, employment in manufacturing is 720,000 below February's level.
  • Wholesale trade increased by 14,000 in August, reflecting an increase of 9,000 in the nondurable goods component. Wholesale trade employment has declined by 328,000 since February.

And a visual summary of all of the above, as it compares to the July job gains.