WASHINGTON, D.C. — Unemployment in the U.S. fell by 1.8 percentage points in August as economic activity continues to rebound during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The increase of about 1.4 million nonfarm payroll jobs helped push the unemployment rate down to 8.4%, the government said.
August's gains followed improvements of 1.7 million jobs in July, 4.8 million jobs in June and 2.7 million jobs in May, although the BLS revised downward slightly the number originally reported for these months.
In August, the retail trade sector added 249,000 jobs, with almost half the growth occurring in general merchandise stores (+116,000). Notable gains also occurred in motor vehicle and parts dealers (+22,000), electronics and appliance stores (+21,000), and miscellaneous store retailers (+17,000).
Employment in this sector remains 655,000 jobs lower than in February.
Employment in the manufacturing sector rose by 29,000 jobs, but employment in manufacturing is 720,000 jobs below February's level.
Employment in the wholesale trade sector increased by 14,000 in August, but employment overall in this sector is down 328,000 jobs versus February.
The BLS also reported that average earnings for hourly employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents to $29.47. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 18 cents to $24.81, following a decrease of 10 cents in July.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by six minutes to 34.6 hours in August. In manufacturing, the workweek rose by 18 minutes to 40 hours.
Despite four months of job gains, the country still has more unemployed compared with February, right before much of the economy shut down to halt the spread of sickness.
February had an unemployment rate of 3.5%. Total unemployment is up 7.8 million from February to August, the bureau said.