Job Market Update: August 2015 

In September, the Federal Reserve will come together for a policy meeting where many economists expect a rare interest-rate increase to be decided upon. July's report affirms that path ahead for the Federal Reserve, putting some ease around the employment situation with steady numbers. Economists claim that if August reports similar numbers, it will all but seal the deal for the Federal Reserve to close on an increased interest rate.

In the month of July, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 215,000, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3%. July's rate, although unchanged, is a strong indicator of stability, as this rate reflects a drop in the month of June - and the lowest unemployment rate in seven years.

Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.9 percentage point and 1.4 million, respectively. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in retail trade, health care, professional and technical services, and financial activities.

In Your Industry

In the month of July, employment gains were concentrated in retail trade, health care, professional and technical services, and financial activities.


Employment in retail trade increased by 36,000 in July and has risen by 322,000 over the year. Employment continued to trend up in merchandise/retail (up by 6,000 new jobs), and the auto industry also showed signs of growth, adding 13,000 new jobs in July. Fiscal Times reports, “The fairly healthy employment report added to robust July automobile sales and service industries data is suggesting the economy continues to gather momentum after growing at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter.”

Health Care

Health care added 28,000 jobs in July and has added 436,000 jobs over the year. In July, employment in hospitals rose by 16,000 new jobs, more than doubling June's numbers. However, this isn't necessarily an indicator of overall industry strength for the year. Modern Healthcare reports, "Hospitals, so far, have struggled to find traction in hiring this year. The sector added 14,200 jobs in May, but that slipped 4.7% from April's job additions. And in March, the sector added only 7,900 jobs, plummeting 19.4% from February's 9,800 additions. But that was a 16.9% decrease from the 11,800 jobs hospitals added in January."

Professional & Technical Services

In Professional and Technical services, 27,000 jobs were added in July. The BLS reports, “Over the past 12 months, professional and technical services has added 301,000 jobs. Management of companies and enterprises added 14,000 jobs over the month."

Financial Services

In Financial Services, 17,000 jobs were added in July. 156,000 jobs have been added in this area over the past 12 months. The top sector in this field was Insurance, which accounted for over half of new jobs created (10,000 in July). There have been about 85,000 Insurance-related job gains over the past year.


In Your Region

For the month of June, Nebraska had the lowest jobless rate in June with 2.6%. West Virginia had the highest rate at 7.4%. 18 states had unemployment rates that were significantly lower than the U.S. average of 5.3%. 11 states, including D.C., had notably higher rates. 21 states were not significantly different from the U.S. average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Midwest had the lowest regional unemployment rate in June with 5.0%, while the West had the highest rate, 5.8%. Over the month, the Northeast had the only statistically significant unemployment rate change. Over-the-year rate decreases occurred in all four regions: the West, Midwest, and Northeast and South.


The Mid-Atlantic region reported an average unemployment rate of 5.8%. Pennsylvania remained unchanged with a rate of 5.4% and Virginia also remained unchanged with 4.9%, but the remaining states displayed changes in unemployment rates. West Virginia increased in unemployment from 7.2 to 7.4% and Delaware increased from 4.6 to 4.7%. Maryland and the District of Columbia decreased from 5.3 to 5.2% and from 7.3 to 7.0%, respectively.


The Midwest region reported an average unemployment rate of 5%. Minnesota was the only state the report an increase, from 3.8 to 3.9%. Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana all reported a decrease in their unemployment rates. Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Ohio remained unchanged.


The Mountain-Plains region reported an average unemployment rate of 4.4%, up from 4.3% the previous month. Kansas and Colorado showed a slight increase in unemployment, from 4.4 to 4.5% and from 4.3 to 4.4%, respectively. Montana, Wyoming, and Missouri remained unchanged.

New England

The New England region reported an average unemployment rate of 4.7%, down by 0.1% from last month's report. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, and Massachusetts remained unchanged at 4.7%, 3.6%, 3.8%, and 4.6%, respectively. Connecticut and Rhode Island each decreased in unemployment rates: Connecticut dropped from 6.0% to 5.7%, and Rhode Island decreased by 0.1%, from 6.0 to 5.9%.

New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico

The New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico region reported an average unemployment rate of 8.0%, down from last month's report of 8.2%. New York and New Jersey decreased unchanged from 5.7 to 5.5% and from 6.5 to 6.1%, respectively. Puerto Rico increased from 12.4 to 12.6%.


The Southeast region reported an average unemployment rate of 5.9%. Most states reported a decrease in unemployment; nearly all reporting just a slight 0.1% increase apart from Alabama, which remained unchanged at 6.1%. North Carolina did report an increase, from 5.7 to 5.8%.


The Southwest region reported an unemployment rate of 5.4%, unchanged from last month's report. New Mexico, and Oklahoma displayed an increase in unemployment, from 6.2 to 6.4% and 4.3 to 4.5%, respectively. Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana each reported a decrease in unemployment - from 4.3 to 4.2%, 5.8 to 5.7%, and 6.6 to 6.4%, respectively.


The Western region reported an average unemployment rate of 5.6%, unchanged from last month's report. Washington, Nevada, California and Hawaii each decreased by 0.1%. Oregon, Idaho and Alaska reported an increase, from 5.3% to 5.5%, 3.9% to 4.0%, and from 6.7 to 6.8%, respectively.