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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

September 06, 2019

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports today that US non-farm payroll employment increased by 130,000 in August.  Results for July were revised to show a slightly smaller gain of 159,000.  US employment growth has slowed in the last few months.  

US employment gains in the last month were concentrated in: federal government (+28,000 on temporary hiring for the census), health care (+24,000), finance (+15,000), professional/business services (+37,000), social assistance (+13,000).  Employment was down in mining (-6,000) and retail trade (-11,000 though this is not significant).  There was little change in employment in other major sectors of the economy: construction, manufacturing, transportation and leisure/hospitality.

The US unemployment rate was steady in August at 3.7 per cent. Unemployment rates across most advanced economies (including Canada and Nova Scotia) are at levels below long run averages.

The US participation rate increased to 63.2 per cent in August. Unlike unemployment rates, the US participation rate has failed to return to pre-recession levels and has only increased modestly since bottoming out in 2015, with fluctuations around a narrow range since the start of 2016.  Participation rates in Canada and Nova Scotia also declined in the years after the global financial crises.  Canada's participation rate has been increasing in recent months, increasing slightly to 65.8 per cent in August.

The US employment to population ratio increased to 60.9 per cent in August. The US employment rate has maintained a very gradual upward trend since the middle of 2013. 

Employment rates in Canada trended up in 2016 and 2017 but remained below levels observed in 2008.  Since the summer of 2018, the national employment rate has re-established an upward trend.  In August, Canada's employment rate rebounded to 62.0 per cent after a decline in July.  With an aging population and declining labour supply, Nova Scotia's employment rates trended down over the 2012 to 2016 period. Nova Scotia's employment rate was elevated in the first half of the year before falling in July.  In August, the Nova Scotia employment rate was 57.3 per cent.

Note: Canadian and US labour force statistics refer to different working-age cohorts.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Statistics Canada Table  14-10-0287-02

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