The 162,000 seasonally adjusted jobs gain the BLS reported for July was revised to 104,000. The 188,000 for June was revised to 172,000.
The employment-population ratio fell to 58.6 percent in August. The labor force participation rate fell in August to 63.2 percent, the lowest level in 35 years. Some of the drop in labor force participation, about one-third, according to the Economic Policy Institute, is the result of an aging population now beginning to retire. But much of the decline in participation is because of discouraged workers giving up looking for work out of despair at finding anything.
If the economy maintained the 148,000 average gain in jobs we've seen for the past three months, it would take until May of 2028 to return to the unemployment levels when the recession began in December 2007.
You can calculate for yourself how fast the economy would get back to the pre-recessionary employment level by using this interactive gadget. You can also calculate how many jobs must be created each month just to keep up with growth in the working-age population with this gadget at the Atlanta Federal Reserve.
No distinction is made in the BLS's monthly count between full-time and part-time jobs. The bureau also does not consider how good the newly added jobs are. The BLS numbers effectively capture trends in employment, but the headline numbers most media focus on partially disguise the real job situation.
Here are the official (U3) seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in August for:
African Americans—13 percent
Asian Americans—5.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted)
American Indians—Not counted
in the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report.
U6 also covers a portion of "discouraged workers" who want jobs but have given up looking within the past year. Those who have given up looking for more than a year but still say they want a job are not included in the U6 count. Statistically they don't exist. That fact is part of what concentration on the headline numbers disguises.
Simply put, the numbers are calculated in such a way that that it's too easy to be considered employed and too hard to be considered unemployed. If you worked one hour a week, you are counted as employed. If you still want a job but you've given up looking for more than 12 months, you aren't counted at all. You're viewed as being out of the labor force altogether. That skews the headline numbers.
The number of long-term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or more, was 4.3 million, accounting for 37.9 percent of the unemployed.
Among other news in the August job report:
• Professional services: +23,000
• Leisure & hospitality: +21,000
• Health care: +33,000
• Retail trade: +44,000
• Construction: 0
• Manufacturing: +14,000
• Average workweek (for production and non-supervisory workers) rose to 34.5 hours.
• Average manufacturing hours rose 40.8 hours.
• Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 5 cents from July's revised figure to $24.05.
August 2003: -44,000
August 2004: +125,000
August 2005: +192,000
August 2006: +179,000
August 2007: -24,000
August 2008: -270,000
August 2009: -210,000
August 2010: - 37,000
August 2011: +132,000
August 2012: +165,000
August 2013: +169,000
A report by Automated Data Processing on Wednesday put the seasonally adjusted increase of private-sector jobs in August at 176,000.
The BLS jobs report is the product of a pair of surveys, one of more than 410,000 business establishments called Current Employment Statistics, and one called the Current Population Survey, which questions 60,000 householders each month. The establishment survey determines how many new jobs were added. It is always calculated on a seasonally adjusted basis determined by a frequently tweaked formula. The BLS report only provides a snapshot of what's happening at a single point in time.
It's important to understand that the jobs-created-last-month-numbers that it reports are not "real." Not because of a conspiracy, but because statisticians apply formulas to the raw data, estimate the number of jobs created by the "birth" and "death" of businesses, and use other filters to fine-tune the numbers. And, always good to remember, in the fine print, they tell us that the actual number of newly created jobs reported is actually plus or minus 100,000.