Unemployment Rate Down to 9.1 Percent, Payroll Employment Grows by 117,000

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The nation's unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in July, down slightly from June's 9.2 percent, while total nonfarm payroll grew by 117,000 jobs, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Aug. 5.

Total private employment rose by 154,000 over the month, reflecting job gains in several major industries, including health care, retail trade, manufacturing, and mining. Government employment continued to drop.

Monthly Unemployment July 2011

“After two very disappointing jobs reports, employment increased a little faster in July,” Kathy Bostjancic, the Conference Board's director for macroeconomic analysis, said in an Aug. 5 statement. She said that businesses appear to believe they can maintain profits while adding cautiously to payrolls, and if that is true, “the labor market will slowly come back.”

Health care employment grew by 31,000 in July, with ambulatory health care services and hospitals each adding 14,000 jobs. Over the past 12 months, health care employment has grown by 299,000, BLS said.

Meanwhile, retail trade added 26,000 jobs in July. Employment in health and personal care stores rose by 9,000 over the month with small increases distributed among several other retail industries. Employment in retail trade has increased by 228,000 since a recent low in December 2009.

Manufacturing employment saw an increase in July of 24,000 jobs, nearly all in durable goods manufacturing. Within durable goods, the motor vehicles and parts industry had fewer seasonal layoffs than typical for July, contributing to a seasonally adjusted employment increase of 12,000.

Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in July (+18,000), adding 246,000 jobs since a recent low in March 2010. Employment in temporary help services changed little over the month and has shown little movement so far this year.

Elsewhere in the private sector, employment in construction, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality changed little over the month. In addition, the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised from +25,000 to +53,000, and the change for June was revised from +18,000 to +46,000.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (9 percent), adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25 percent), whites (8.1 percent), blacks (15.9 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent) showed little or no change in July. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted.