Statement: Chad Stone, Chief Economist, on the August Employment Report

For Immediate Release


Michelle Bazie

Statement: Chad Stone, Chief Economist, on the August Employment Report

WASHINGTON - Today’s employment report shows little evidence that the emerging
economic recovery is reviving the job market. Although job losses
continued to moderate in August, the percentage of Americans with a job
reached its lowest level since 1984.

Economic activity seems to
be increasing, but employers remain reluctant to hire, and people who
want to work remain discouraged about their prospects of finding a job.
Improvements in the labor market typically lag behind a turnaround in
economic growth, so unless things change dramatically, job losses will
continue and the unemployment rate will keep rising for a significant
period of time after the formal end of the recession.

Obama and Congress enacted significant temporary unemployment insurance
benefits (UI), including additional weeks of benefits to people who
exhaust their regular 26 weeks of benefits. To provide assistance for
job-seekers and to provide a valuable boost to economic activity,
policymakers should renew the temporary UI benefits programs, which
expire at the end of this year. They should also consider additional
assistance for job-seekers who have exhausted or will soon exhaust all
their UI benefits in what continues to be a very harsh labor market,
where a third of the unemployed have been looking for work for 27 weeks
or longer.

About the August Jobs Report

September marks the 21st
month since the start of the recession in December 2007, and a host of
data in today’s report illustrate the ongoing weakness in the labor

  • Although the pace of job losses has slowed
    considerably in recent months, private and government payrolls combined
    have shrunk for 20 straight months, and net job losses since the start
    of the recession total 6.9 million. (Private sector payrolls have
    shrunk by 7.0 million jobs over the same period.)
  • Nonfarm
    payrolls fell by 216,000 jobs in August. Taking out losses of
    government jobs, private payrolls fell by 198,000 jobs. Each of these
    declines is the smallest since August 2008.
  • The
    unemployment rate, which was 4.9 percent at the start of the recession
    in December 2007, rose from 9.4 percent in July to 9.7 percent in
    August, its highest rate since June 1983.
  • With little
    growth in the labor force and a jump in unemployment in August, the
    percentage of the population with a job continued to trend down,
    reaching 59.2 percent, its lowest level since March 1984.
  • The
    Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate
    measure — which includes people who want to work but are discouraged
    from looking and people working part time because they can’t find
    full-time jobs — jumped to 16.8 percent in August. That figure is 8.1
    percentage points higher than when the recession began, and it is the
    highest on record in data that go back to 1994.
  • A third of the 11 million unemployed workers have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer.



The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

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