Unemployment Rises in August

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate increased to 6.1 percent in August, up from 5.7 in July. Employment fell in manufacturing and employment services, while mining and health care continued to add jobs. Average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents (0.4 percent) over the month.

The ranks of the unemployed rose by 592,000 to 9.4 million. Over 12 months, the number of unemployed increased by 2.2 million, and the unemployment rate rose 1.4 percent.

In August, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose by 163,000, to 1.8 million, an increase of 589,000 over the past 12 months. The newly unemployed—those who were jobless fewer than five weeks—increased by 400,000 over the month.

In related news, The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index continued its downward trend in August, suggesting even more softening to come in the labor market. The index fell in August to 110.8, down 0.5 percent from July’s 111.4 and down more than 8 percent from a year ago.

“The Employment Trends Index continues to rapidly deteriorate, suggesting there is little likelihood of a turnaround in the job market anytime soon,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. “In fact, the pace of decline points toward job losses and rising unemployment extending well into 2009.”