Monthly Hiring and Applicant Activity Meter

Published: September 8, 2021
Covering Data of August 2021

Summary for August 2021

The hiring narrative in the US for August 2021 was a complicated mix. It included several positive trends but retained some negative indicators as well.  August was a month of growth but neither as much as economists predicted nor at the rate previous months experienced. Within the United States, in August 2021:

The overall unemployment rate decreased

Job postings remained stable and growing 

The number of new hires rose 

The number of unemployment insurance claims fell

The number of those not currently in the labor force and want a job declined

The underlying current for all hiring data remains the same as it has since March 2020: the impact of COVID-19; the differing degree of impact to different industries and now, how will the coming months be affected by the Delta variant. 

Ten Takeaways for August 2021

  • Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) but many economists predicted over 700,000 new hires, about triple the number of new hires reported (source: Dow Jones via CNBC)
  • As of the end of August, the four-week moving average for the number of uninsurance claims was at 355,000 and is the lowest level for this average since March 2020 (source: Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims).
  • The unemployment rate declined to 5.2% (from 5.4% in July 2021) and the number of unemployed persons decreased to 8.4 million (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Though both the unemployment rate and the total number of unemployed persons decreased, and are significantly lower than COVID-19 peak, both still remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • The number of people not in the labor force that want a job declined by 835,000 in August to 5.7 million and this remains higher than the February 2020 baseline (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1)
  • Job Postings on Indeed in August were 39.4% above February 1, 2020 levels – the pre-pandemic baseline (source: Indeed hiring lab)
  • Job postings in sectors that have a greater capacity for work-from-home such as tech and finance have increased the most in August while traditional in-person sectors have increased at a slower rate (source: Indeed hiring lab)
  • According to ADP, in August, Medium sized businesses (between 50-499 employees) added the most employees; followed by Large Businesses (500+ employees) and then Small businesses (49 or fewer employees) (source ADP National Employment Report)
  • The industries with the highest number of newly added employees were professional and business services (+74,000); transportation and warehouse (+53,000); private education (+40,000) and manufacturing (+37,000) and other services (+37,000) (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • The Retail Industry saw a reduced number of employees in August (-29,000) and Leisure and Hospitality remained unchanged after increasing an average of +350,000 per month over the past six months (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).