August 2021 Jobs Report: Employers Add 235,000 Jobs

By Robert Half on September 3, 2021 at 8:00am

U.S. employers expanded payrolls by 235,000 jobs last month, according to the August jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That figure is well below analysts’ expectations of 720,000 or more.

Revised figures from the BLS for June and July show that 134,000 more positions were added during those two months than previously reported. Since the start of 2021, the U.S. economy has seen employment increase by nearly 4.7 million jobs — or 586,000 positions per month, on average.

Unemployment rate slides to 5.2%

The national unemployment rate in August was 5.2%, declining from 5.4% in July.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers also fell — dropping to 2.8% from 3.1% in July. These professionals are the most highly sought-after job candidates. August’s unemployment rate is the lowest seen this year for this group of workers.

Professional and business services sector sees notable job gains in August

The BLS reports that employment in professional and business services increased by 74,000 jobs last month. These industries were also contributors to U.S. job growth in August:

  • Transportation and warehousing: 53,200 jobs added
  • Manufacturing: 37,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 35,000 jobs added
  • Information: 17,000 jobs added
  • Financial activities: 16,000 jobs added

Job growth in leisure and hospitality was flat last month, according to the BLS. This industry has been a primary driver of overall job gains in the U.S. economy over the past six months, averaging 350,000 per month. The retail industry also saw job contraction last month, shedding 28,500 jobs. The rising number of COVID-19 cases tied to the Delta variant throughout the United States is a key factor in these two employment trends observed in August.

Number of employed persons working remotely edges up slightly

In August, 13.4% of employed persons worked remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic, up from 13.2% in the prior month. The BLS describes these workers as employed persons who worked away from the office for pay at some point in the last four weeks specifically because of the pandemic.

Dig deeper into the latest hiring trends

The Demand for Skilled Talent report from Robert Half provides the latest data on hiring trends and top positions for several key industries, including accounting and finance, technology, healthcare, and government. In our latest issue, learn about employers’ top hiring challenges, plans and strategies, get insight on the next chapter of “anywhere working,” discover what skills future leaders need to succeed, and more.

View the report now on the Robert Half website.

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