US retailers shed jobs in August, while factory hiring was flat

Economic Indicators Associated Press

In recent months, a wide array of U.S. industries added jobs. Almost every sector — manufacturing, retail, financial services and information — notched solid gains.

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That stopped in August.

Employers added just 142,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The seasonally adjusted figure marked a drop-off from the 12-month average of 212,000 added jobs.

The unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, largely because more people gave up looking for jobs and fewer people started looking for one. The government counts as unemployed only people who say they are actively seeking work.

What caused the August slowdown?

Several industries basically stopped hiring. Factories failed to increase their payrolls at all in August as automakers cut jobs. Retailers shed 8,400 jobs, led primarily by food and beverage stores. Compare that with the previous five months, when retailers added an average of 28,040.

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The start of the school year did little to spur hiring of public school employees by state and local governments. Their seasonally adjusted ranks fell slightly. The information and financial sectors also lost momentum from the prior two months.

Among the bright spots was construction, which added 20,000 employees, about half them specialty contractors for housing. Restaurants, temporary worker agencies, services firms and the education and health sector accounted for more than 74 percent of jobs added last month.

Industry August 2014 July 2014 Past 12 months
Construction 20,000 31,000 232,000
Manufacturing 0 28,000 168,000
Retail -8,400 20,900 248,200
Transportation, warehousing 1,200 19,100 151,600
Information (Telecom, publishing) -3,000 5,000 -2,000
Financial services 7,000 10,000 66,000
Professional services (Accounting, temp work) 47,000 36,000 639,000
Education and health 37,000 33,000 367,000
Hotels, restaurants, entertainment 15,000 12,000 345,000
Government 8,000 -1,000 44,000
Source: Labor Department