BLS August 2020 Jobs Report

The August 2020 Jobs Report: What is the Current US Employment Situation?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly overview of the US employment situation and the data for August shows improvement from July after economic decline related to COVID-19. The labor department jobs report examines a range of US jobs data to gauge the overall health of the US economy, specifically the number of jobs added, the unemployment rate, and what industries are hiring now.

The August jobs report shows positive change in the labor market. Unemployment declined to 8.4% and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.4 million, while the number of unemployed persons declined by 2.8 million to 13.6 million. These improvements are related to a resurgence in economy activity after major coronavirus-related slowdowns beginning in March.


Unemployment Rate



Number of Unemployed People



Change in Nonfarm Payroll Unemployment


Here are some other key statistics from the labor department jobs report:

  • 24.3% percent of employed persons teleworked specifically due to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s a slight decrease from 24.6% in July.
  • The number of unemployed people on temporary layoff decreased by 3.1 million to 6.2 million.
  • The number of unemployed people who were jobless less than 5 weeks decreased by 921,000 to 2.3 million, and the number of those jobless for 5 to 14 weeks declined by 2.0 million to 3.1 million. In contrast, the number of long-term unemployed people (jobless for 27 weeks or more) stayed consistent at 1.6 million.
  • The labor force participation rate increased by 0.3% to 61.7%.
  • The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (AKA involuntary part-time workers) declined by 871,000 to 7.6 million.
  • Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.11 to $29.47 after large fluctuations in previous months.


Although job gains have slowed down since the dramatic increases we saw in June, August brought job gains in many industries hiring in 2020. We saw the greatest employment change in government (344,000 jobs added) due to 2020 Census hiring. We also saw significant increase in retail trade, professional and business services, and others as economic activity continued to pick up. Here are the industries that were affected in August:


Change in Employment by Industry


Overall, the labor department jobs report suggests that the economy is improving but job gains have slowed down significantly. Due to the impact of the coronavirus, our economy is still in poor shape compared to our employment situation in February. To track employment numbers and the health of the economy, check back for our summary of the BLS September jobs report on October 2, 2020.

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by: Sarah Ballow
September 04, 2020