Today the Department of Labor released figures showing that the unemployment rate for August is essentially unchanged from July. The overall unemployment rate increased slightly from 9.3 percent to 9.4 percent, which is not regarded as statistically significant. The old civilian rate remained unchanged at 9.5 percent.
The Labor Department also noted that adjusted payroll employment for August increased about 300,000.
Employment statistics for August are complicated by a very large increase in the number of workers on strike: 710,000 more persons were on strike in August than in July. Striking workers are not counted among the unemployed, but they also are not counted for payroll employment. Actual payroll employment fell 411,000 between July and August, but an adjustment for the increased number of strikers shows that about 300,000 persons were added to payrolls.
This pause in declining unemployment rates comes on the heels of an unusually large drop in July. A downward trend over several months, combined with the increase in payroll employment, point to a steadily improving jobs picture. Economic news continues to be encouraging.