Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Kate Bahn released the following statement today on the August 2016 employment situation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy added 151,000 jobs, while the unemployment remained steady at 4.9%, marking 71 consecutive months of job growth.
Today’s jobs report marks 71 consecutive months of job growth for the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last week highlighted the steady improvement in our labor market as we continue the long recovery from the Great Recession. After years of private-sector profit growth, workers are well-positioned to more clearly share in benefits of the recovery. While the labor market as a whole has continued to improve, there are still workers who face added barriers to joining the workforce, leading to persistently higher unemployment rates, lower labor force participation, and lower wages.
It’s encouraging that Federal Reserve regional bank heads took the important step last week of engaging with the advocates that are focused on ensuring broader employment opportunities. In considering whether our economy is ready to bear increased interest rates, we need to focus on whether labor market conditions have sufficiently improved for those who are facing the greatest barriers to economic well-being and a middle-class life.
Ensuring that employment opportunities lead to a middle-class life extends beyond the important work of the Fed. With Labor Day upon us, recent CAP research strongly suggests that the decreasing share of workers in unions is responsible for one-third of the decline in the share of workers holding down middle-class jobs. Better bargaining power for workers means better economic mobility and opportunity. Combined with monetary policy focused on the goal of lowering unemployment for those facing the highest rates, stronger bargaining power would lead to a more inclusive, higher-quality labor market.
Related resource: The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-September 2016 Jobs Release by Kate Bahn, Annie McGrew, and Gregg Gelzinis.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.6331.