The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, as economic activity curtailed by the pandemic continues to resume.

The latest jobs report notes that employment in government increased by 344,000 in August, or a quarter of the total gains. This includes the addition of 238,000 temporary 2020 census workers. Other sectors reporting notable job gains last month include:

  • Retail trade: 249,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services: 197,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality: 174,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 147,000 jobs added
  • Transportation and warehousing: 78,000 jobs added

Job gains for June and July combined were 39,000 fewer than previously reported, according to the BLS.

Unemployment rate at 8.4%

The national unemployment rate dropped to 8.4% in August, down from 10.2% in July.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older also decreased last month, to 5.3%.

The rate was 6.7% in July. These professionals are the most highly sought-after by employers.

What employers need to know

Many companies turn to skilled interim professionals for assistance during times of the year when workloads spike. Back-to-school season is typically one of those periods. Of course, it’s by no means typical this year, given that many schools are providing remote or hybrid learning options because of the pandemic. And that has many working parents and other caregivers facing some major challenges. 

By bringing temporary employees on board, companies can ease the burden on their core team members and keep critical projects moving forward. This show of support for overwhelmed and time-strapped employees can also help boost retention. Recent research by our company found that 60% of workers are more motivated to be employed at an organization that values its staff during unpredictable times.

But that’s not the only reason employers may want to consider engaging interim workers. Many organizations are trying to position themselves for growth in the months ahead. Yet some remain cautious about hiring full-time workers while unpredictability persists. This is when a flexible staffing strategy is ideal. Using skilled temporary workers allows businesses to quickly add talent as it’s needed it and dial down the support interim professionals provide as the demand wanes.  

What job seekers need to know

It’s back-to-school time for many. Supervising children who are learning remotely — even if it’s only a few days a week — can be a monumental challenge. And, if you’re conducting a job search at the same time, high levels of stress and frustration are likely to result. 

Try to set aside designated time throughout the day to look for opportunities and engage in professional networking online. Consider using an approach called “windowed work” — breaking up your day into distinct chunks of business and personal time. Robert Half has found that 78% of professionals with children say windowed work helps them be more productive during the day.

So, for example, a job seeker using this approach might set aside “windows” when they know their child will be focused on learning or engaged in a low-supervision activity to apply to new opportunities, polish their resume or meet with employers. One bright spot: Many interviews are happening by video right now. That gives you more flexibility to schedule an interview for a time when you’re less likely to be distracted or interrupted.

Read the infographic text.


1,371,000 JOBS ADDED*




Unemployment RateUnemployment Rate for College Grads
September '19 3.5% 2.0%
October '19 3.6% 2.1%
November '193.5% 2.0%
December '193.5% 1.9%
January '203.6% 2.0%
February '20 3.5%1.9%
March '20 4.4%2.5%
April '20 14.7%8.4%
May '20 13.3% 7.4%
June '20 11.1% 6.9%
July '2010.2% 6.7%
August '20 8.4%5.3%

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

**College-degreed workers 25 and older

See what these results mean for job seekers and employers at


73% of workers who time block their day see improved productivity.

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

© 2020 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.