Jobs Report: Monthly Employment Growth Statistics

Where Were the 156,000 Jobs Added in August?

Afro-American woman in hotel
There were many opportunities for hotel workers in April. Photo: Izusek/Getty Images

The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August 2017. The economy needs 150,000 new jobs each month to keep expanding. This positive growth figure makes it more likely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its September 20, 2017, FOMC meeting

Where Were the Gains?

U.S. manufacturing added 36,000 jobs as the strong dollar subsides. A weaker dollar helps exports. Durable goods gained 28,000 jobs, aided by a 13,700 job gain in auto manufacturing.


Pay close attention to how many manufacturing jobs are added or lost each month. This is a significant leading economic indicator. Factories are more likely to add workers as soon as they have the orders in hand. That occurs months or even years before the order ships. That makes manufacturing a better indicator than service employment. Those job levels stay more consistent through thick and thin.

Construction added 28,000 jobs. That's a strong sign for the housing market. That compares to the 4,000 jobs the sector lost in August 2016.

Health care only added 16,600 jobs. That's about half of its normal performance. Health care had been the strongest performer even during the recession. Did uncertainty over Trump's health care plan dampen employers' confidence?

Financial activities added 10,000 jobs. Banks are adding positions as they expect the Fed to continue to increase interest rates in 2017.

That brings greater profitability to lenders. Find out why in How Banking Works.

The mining industry gained 6,000 jobs now that oil prices are rising a bit. OPEC agreed to limit its output, but not all countries are complying. Excess supply from U.S. shale oil producers is also getting absorbed. For details, see Future Oil Prices.

Leisure and hospitality only added 4,000 jobs. This sector usually adds at least 20,000 to 30,000 positions a month. They aren't as well paid as health care and banking, so they don't contribute as much to overall economic growth. Nevertheless, if this trend continues it could signal a slump.

Retail only added 800 jobs. Store managers have been slashing jobs since March 2017. That was a pull-back after adding them for upticks in consumer spending during the holidays. This includes record-high Black Friday sales. Despite the poor retail jobs report, wholesale added 6,300 jobs.

Temporary help services gained 100 jobs. Companies often add temp jobs when business is picking up, but they aren't confident enough to add full-time positions. 

Where Were the Losses?

The government lost 9,000 positions. That's in keeping with President Trump's promises to streamline the federal government.

Information services lost 8,000 jobs. This sector is critical to American global competitiveness. For more, see Silicon Valley.  

Utilities lost 500 jobs. That's after losing 600 jobs in July. 

What Is the U.S. Jobs Report?

Definition: The monthly Jobs Report is also called the "Employment Situation Summary" and the "Non-Farm Payroll Report." It's a critical economic indicator because it's the first report of the month.

It's also the most comprehensive and credible.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys 160,000 non-farm businesses and agencies on the number of jobs, the wages paid and the hours worked. The jobs report will tell you which industries are adding jobs, whether American workers are working longer hours and how fast salaries are increasing. 

The jobs report also provides the unemployment rate. To get the number of unemployed individuals, the BLS must undertake a separate survey of households instead of businesses. This household report also includes workers' age, sex and race/ethnicity. The household survey has a more expansive scope than the establishment survey. That's because it includes the self-employed, unpaid family workers, agricultural workers and private household workers, who are excluded by the establishment survey.

The household survey is not as accurate as the business establishment though. It has a smaller sample size. That's why employment numbers are taken from the establishment survey. Here are the Current Unemployment Statistics.

There are two other jobs reports. The monthly ADP National Employment Report® is released on the first Wednesday of each month. It's produced by the ADP Research Institute, SM and Moody’s Analytics. It uses business payroll data to report on the number of jobs added in the private sector. It excludes farming (as does the BLS report) and, more important, government jobs (included in the BLS report). For that reason, it's considered incomplete.

The ADP Report is important though, because it's released the Wednesday before the BLS report. It gives some analysts an earlier view of what might happen in the Friday report. ADP is quick to say it's not intended to be predictive. Like the BLS report, it's revised as more data comes in later in the month. These revised numbers are 96 percent correlated with the revised BLS jobs report. See the latest monthly ADP report.

The Department of Labor also releases a weekly jobless claims report. This measures the claims for initial unemployment benefits reported by each state every week. It also reports how many of the unemployed are still receiving benefits. This report gives an indication of trends, whether there are more or less unemployed than the week before. The main value of this report is that it is weekly and so it gives some idea of trends in between the monthly jobs reports. It should be noted though that it isn’t accurate when predicting the monthly report. Furthermore, it is volatile, which can be misleading. See the latest weekly jobless claims report.

Jobs Reports

2017 Jobs  (Final Est) Jobs  (1st  Est)GrowthLossesComments
Jan216,000 227,000Retail, ConstructionGov't.Housing market boom.
Feb232,000 235,000Constr. HealthRetail
Mar  50,000   98,000Health, Temp.Uncertainty
Apr174,000 211,000 
May152,000 138,000 
June231,000 222,000Auto 
July189,000 209,000Health, HotelsGov't. 
20162.24 Million Jobs Created
Jan 126,000 151,000Retail, Construction, Health Care  
Feb 237,000 242,000Mining, Mfg 
Mar 225,000 215,000 
Apr 153,000 160,000Health Care, BankingMining, government, retail
May  43,000   38,000 Mfg, Oil  Strong dollar hurts exports.
Jun 297,000 287,000

Hotels, HC

 Gains should have helped incumbent party candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 presidential race 
Jul 291,000 255,000 
Aug 176,000 151,000Hotels, Retail, HC 
Sep 249,000 156,000Construction, HCMfg, Oil
Oct 124,000 161,000
Nov 164,000 178,000IT, Mfg
Dec155,000 156,000Hotels, HCIT, Temp  
2015 2.713  Million Jobs  Created
Jan 234,000 257,000Retail, Construction, Healthcare  
Feb 238,000 295,000  
Mar  86,000 126,000Temp  
Apr 262,000 223,000Temp, Construction,HC  
May 344,000 280,000Retail, Hotels, HC  
Jun 206,000 223,000Retail, Healthcare  
Jul 254,000 215,000  
Aug 157,000 173,000 Mfg. Strong dollar hurt exports.
Sep 100,000 142,000 Mfg, Oil 
Oct 321,000 271,000Retail, Hotels, HC  
Nov 272,000 211,000Construction, HC, Retail  
Dec 239,000 292,000Hotels, HC, Construction  
20142.998 Million Jobs Created
Jan190,000133,000  Dow rose 165 points.
Feb151,000175,000 Winter storms hurt jobs
Mar272,000192,000  Exceeded estimates.
May246,000217,000HC, HotelsIT 
Jun304,000288,000HC, Hotels, Retail, IT  
Jul202,000202,000HC, Retail, Hotels Lower than expected.
Aug230,000142,000HC, ConstructionRetail, Auto, IT
Sep280,000248,000Retail, Hotels, HC Back-to-school. 
Oct227,000214,000Retail, Hotels, HCITHalloween
Nov312,000321,000Retail, HC, Hotels, IT   Biggest gain in 3 years. Stores hired for Black Friday.
20132.302 Million Jobs Created
Feb286,000236,000Construction, Retail  
Mar130,000  88,000 Retail hit from bad weather.
Apr197,000165,000  Dow exceeds 15,000.
May226,000175,000Construction Dow rose 200 points. 
Jul122,000162,000Retail, Hotel  
Sep190,000143,000  Expansionary monetary policy
Oct212,000204,000The government shutdown delayed the survey allowing more businesses to report.
Dec  47,000  71,000 Across-the-boardPoor holiday sales.
20122.142 Million Jobs Created
Jan358,000243,000Hotels, MFG.  
Feb237,000227,000Business growth made everyone think the economy had finally healed.
Mar233,000120,000 RetailPoor growth across the board.
Apr  78,000115,000 Construction was hurt by foreclosures. Government was cutting budgets.
May115,000  65,000 Seasonal weakness sent the Dow down 275 points.
Jun  76,000  80,000 The Dow dropped 180 points on the poor jobs report.  
Jul143,000163,000The Dow gained 217 points on the strong report.
Aug177,000  96,000Former GE CEO Jack Welch was suspicious that so many jobs were added right before the presidential election
Oct146,000171,000The strong jobs report came out a week before the election. Data was collected before Superstorm Sandy hit.
Nov132,000146,000Sandy devastated New York, but didn't affect national jobs numbers.
Dec244,000155,000 Fiscal cliff forced firms to hire less.
20112.091 Million Jobs Created
Jan  43,00036,000The economy had 984,000 more jobs than the year before.
Feb189,000192,000MFG jobs up 189,000 YOY 
May  77,00054,000The weak report sent the Dow and dollar down, and gold up.
Jul  69,000117,000  Dow dropped 400 points.
Aug110,000The first report said no jobs were created, giving urgency to Obama's jobs speech the following week.
Nov141,000120,000Strong retail sales boosted job growth. 
20101.061 Million Jobs Created
Jan  23,00018,000U.S. Census added 52,000 temporary jobs
Feb -68,000-50,00048,000 temporary jobs (15,000 Census) 
Mar164,000156,000 MFTG down 633,000 YOY
Apr 243,000 290,000Census added 63,000 temp jobs. MFG added 44,000 jobs 
May 524,000 431,000Census added 411,000 temp jobs 
Jun-137,000-125,000 The Census laid off 225,000 temp workers.
Jul  -68,000-121,000The Census laid off 143,000, but business hiring was up by 71,000 jobs.
Aug  -36,000 -31,000The first y-o-y job gain in 26 months. (up 229,000 in the past year.)
Sep  -52,000 -91,000344,000 more jobs than the year earlier.
Oct 262,000150,000   
Nov 119,000  39,000  .
Dec   87,000103,000BusinessesGovt.  
20095.068 Million Jobs Lost
Jan-793,000 -598,000   
Feb-702,000-651,000 MFG lost 1.2 million jobs YOY.
Mar-823,000-663,000 4.8 million jobs lost Y-O-Y, the most since the 2001 recession.
May-349,000-345,000 MFG lost 1.6 million jobs YOY
Nov    -2,000  -11,000   
Dec-275,000  -85,000 MFG lost 1.3 million jobs YOY
20083.567 Million Jobs Lost
Jan    17,000  -17,000 MFG lost 2.7% of its jobs YOY
Feb   -84,000  -63,000   
March   -78,000  -80,000 The last time YOY job growth fell this much was in 2001, which led to 29 months of job losses.
April-210,000  -20,000   
May-186,000  -49,000  
June-162,000  -62,000   
July-213,000  -51,000 150,000 jobs lost YOY
Aug-267,000  -84,000   
Nov-766,000-533,000 1.9 million jobs lost YOY. 604,000 in MFG
Dec-694,000-524,0002.5 million jobs jobs lost YOY, morer than in the 2001 recession. It never lost more than 2.1 million jobs YOY.
20071.147 Million Jobs Created
Feb  89,000  97,000  
Mar190,000180,0001.4% gain YOYMFG jobs down 0.6%
Apr  80,000  88,0001.4% gain YOYMFG jobs down 1.1% YOY
May143,000157,0001.5% gain YOYMFG jobs down 1.3% YOY
Jun  75,000132,0001.5% gain YOYMFG jobs down 1.3%YOY
Jul -34,000  92,0001.4% gain YOYMFG jobs down 1.2% YOY
Aug -20,000   -4,0001.2% gain YOYMFG jobs down 1.5% YOY
Sep  88,000110,000 Worst job gain since 2004.
Oct  84,000166,000MFG jobs down 1.6% YOY
Nov114,000  94,0001.1% gain YOYMFG jobs down 1.3% YOY
Dec  98,00018,000YOY jobs increased just 1%, while manufacturing jobs were down 1.5%. TMFG jobs down 1.5% YOYThe worst performance of the year.