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September 02, 2005
Unemployment Rate Remains at 4.9%

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 169,000 in August, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Friday.

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The BLS stressed that the August employment statistics do not reflect the effects of Hurricane Katrina because the hurricane struck Florida and the Gulf Coast after the four-week August survey reference period had ended.

The BLS said that during the August survey period, employment rose in several industries, including construction, health care, and accommodations and food services. Manufacturing employment edged down.

The unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in August, though it has headed downward by half a percentage point since February. The number of unemployed persons, 7.4 million, was down from 8 million in February.

In August, the unemployment rates for most major worker groups--adult men (4.3 percent), teenagers (16.5 percent), whites (4.2 percent), blacks (9.6 percent), and Hispanics or Latinos (5.8 percent)--showed little or no change. The jobless rate for adult women fell to 4.4 percent over the month. The unemployment rate for Asians was 3.6 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

Since February, the number of persons unemployed due to job loss has declined by 490,000, to 3.5 million in August. The decline in this group has accounted for most of the decrease in total unemployment over the period, the BLS said.

Total employment continued to trend up in August. The employment-population ratio was 62.9 percent; since February, the employment-population ratio has risen by 0.6 percentage point. The labor force participation rate, at 66.2 percent in August, has increased by 0.4 percentage point since early this year, the BLS said.

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