August 2019 Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 3.7%

By Robert Half September 6, 2019 at 7:03am

U.S. employers expanded payrolls by 130,000 positions last month, according to the August jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That figure is below most analysts’ expectations. Updated figures for June and July also show that job gains were 20,000 less than the BLS had previously reported. With these revisions, job growth has averaged 158,000 per month in 2019.

According to the BLS, the following sectors contributed most to new job creation in August:

  • Professional and business services — 37,000 jobs added
  • Government — 34,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services — 32,000 jobs added
  • Financial activities — 15,000 jobs added
  • Construction — 14,000 jobs added

The large growth in government jobs was due mostly to the hiring of 25,000 temporary workers to prepare for the 2020 Census, according to the BLS.

Unemployment rate hovers just above 50-year low

The national unemployment rate held steady in August at 3.7%, which is close to a 50-year low. The rate has not changed for three consecutive months. Unemployment rates for many in-demand occupations, like accountants and auditors, software developers, and marketing and sales managers, are tracking well below the national rate, according to recent figures from the BLS.

The BLS also reports that the unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older — the professionals most highly sought by employers — edged down slightly last month to 2.1%, from 2.2% in July.

What employers need to know

If your employees don’t seem engaged at work lately, don’t assume they’re suffering from a case of the end-of-summer blues. It might be something far worse: warning signs of burnout. A study by our company found that 96% of senior managers believe their team members are experiencing some degree of burnout. The top factor for this condition is an unmanageable workload.

In a labor market with low unemployment and persistent demand for skilled talent, valued employees who feel overworked are likely already on the hunt for a new job. But their departure is not inevitable. There are several things you can do to bring workloads back to a more manageable state swiftly and help reduce your employees’ stress and exasperation.

One way to provide quick relief is to bring in temporary workers, who can support day-to-day needs and assist with projects requiring specialized skills. Then, with these reinforcements in place, you can reassess your employees’ roles to make sure they are working in positions that are well-aligned to their strengths and interests. Also, you can confirm that you are setting realistic expectations for performance — and giving your staff the recognition, and compensation, they deserve for working as hard as they do.

Find out ways to prevent work burnout at your company.

What job seekers need to know

Feeling overworked? You’re far from alone. In a recent Robert Half survey, 91% of professionals said they are at least somewhat burned out. If stress levels have prompted you to look for a new job, what can you do to ensure you don’t end up in the same situation elsewhere?

Researching the organizational cultures of the employers you’re targeting is key. You’ll find many leading companies use their website, social media and other outlets to highlight why their business is a great place to work.

Try to dig a bit deeper, though, whether it’s online or through contacts in your professional network, to develop a complete picture of the work environment. And during the interview process, be sure to ask hiring managers questions such as, “What do you like about working here?”

Workers interviewed for the Robert Half survey cited career stagnation among the top three reasons for feeling burnout on the job. So, if career advancement and professional development are vital to keeping you engaged at work and motivated to excel, list them among your must-haves when weighing new opportunities. Knowing that you work for an employer that wants to help you grow and succeed can help you stay focused and positive during times when workloads and stress intensify.

Check out tips for dealing with the struggle of work burnout.

An infographic summarizing the August 2019 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

AUGUST 2019 U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS MONTHLY JOBS SUMMARY

130,000 JOBS ADDED*

3.7% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE*

2.1 % UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR COLLEGE GRADS*/**

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS*

    Unemployment Rate Unemployment Rate for College Grads**
  September '18 3.7% 2.0%
  October '18 3.8% 2.0%
  November '18 3.7% 2.2%
  December '18 3.9% 2.1%
  January '19 4.0% 2.4%
  February '19 3.8% 2.2%
  March '19 3.8% 2.0%
  April '19 3.6% 2.1%
  May '19 3.6% 2.1%
  June '19 3.7% 2.1%
  July '19 3.7% 2.2%
  August '19 3.7% 2.1%

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

**College-degreed workers 25 and older

See what these results mean for job seekers and employers at roberthalf.com/blog.

 

MONEY MATTERS

46% of workers feel underpaid by their current employers.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers in the U.S.

© 2019 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

roberthalf.com

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