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Employment Blog September 2021

This report is from the U S Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2 percent. So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 586,000. In August, notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, private education, manufacturing, and other services. Employment in retail trade declined. Reflecting the initial impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market, job losses totaled 22.4 million during the February-April 2020 recession. Nonfarm payroll employment has increased by 17.0 million since April 2020 but is down by 5.3 million, or 3.5 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 74,000 in August. Job gains occurred in architectural and engineering services (+19,000), computer systems design and 2 related services (+10,000), scientific research and development services (+7,000), and office administrative services (+6,000). Employment in professional and business services is down by 468,000 since February 2020, over half of which is in temporary help services (-262,000).

Transportation and warehousing added 53,000 jobs in August, bringing employment in the industry slightly above (+22,000) its February 2020 level. Employment gains have been led by strong growth in couriers and messengers and in warehousing and storage, which added 20,000 jobs each in August. Employment in air transportation increased by 11,000 over the month. Transit and ground passenger transportation–which includes school buses–lost 8,000 jobs.

In August, employment in private education increased by 40,000, while state government education lost 21,000 jobs, and employment in local government education changed little (-6,000). All three education industries showed employment gains in June and July. August marks the beginning of the traditional back-to-school season.

However, recent employment changes are challenging to interpret, as pandemic-related staffing fluctuations in public and private education have distorted the normal seasonal hiring and layoff patterns. Since February 2020, employment is down by 159,000 in private education, by 186,000 3 in state government education, and by 220,000 in local government education.

Manufacturing added 37,000 jobs in August, with gains in motor vehicles and parts (+24,000) and fabricated metal products (+7,000). Employment in manufacturing is 378,000 lower than in February 2020.

In August, employment in the other services industry increased by 37,000, with growth occurring in personal and laundry services (+19,000) and in repair and maintenance (+9,000). Since February 2020, employment in other services is down by 189,000.

Employment in information rose by 17,000 in August, with data processing, hosting, and related services (+12,000) accounting for more than two-thirds of the gain. Employment in information is 150,000 lower than in February 2020. Financial activities added 16,000 jobs in August, led by a gain in real estate (+11,000).

Employment in financial activities is down by 29,000 since February 2020.

Mining employment rose by 6,000 in August, reflecting a gain in support activities for mining (+4,000). Mining has added 55,000 jobs since a trough in August 2020, but employment is 96,000 lower than a peak in January 2019.

Employment in retail trade declined by 29,000 in August, with job losses in food and beverage stores (-23,000) and in 4 building material and garden supply stores (-13,000). Since February 2020, employment in retail trade is down by 285,000. Employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged in August. This industry had added 2.1 million jobs from January 2021 through July, accounting for half of total nonfarm employment growth over the period. In August, a decline of 42,000 in food services and drinking places offset a job gain in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+36,000).

Employment in leisure and hospitality is 1.7 million, or 10.0 percent, lower than in February 2020.

Employment in other major industries–including construction, wholesale trade, and health care–showed little change over the month.

Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.4 percent from July to August, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from an increase of 0.6 percent in average hourly earnings combined with an increase of 0.3 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Real average weekly earnings increased 0.3 percent over the month due.


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