1,371,000 jobs

were added in Aug., worse than the 3,080,000 average jobs added over the previous three months.


Decresed to

8.4 percent

This is above the Federal Reserve’s full employment benchmark, which is 4.7 percent.

Hourly wages

Increased to


Average earnings for private sector workers have increased 4.7 percent in the last year.

Overall, the economy was doing pretty well at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, and it had remained strong into President Trump’s first term until March when coronavirus job losses began. Here’s how Trump compares to other presidents on the number of jobs added:

Jobs added under each president

George W. Bush
Jobs added: 575,000
Monthly average: 5,990

Bill Clinton
Jobs added: 22.7 million
Monthly average: 236,719

Barack Obama
Jobs added: 12.5 million
Monthly average: 130,667

Donald Trump
Jobs added: -5 million
Monthly average: -116,690



Workers in most fields are still struggling

Almost every industry has been affected by the recent losses in employment. Those who worked in leisure and hospitality have seen the sharpest decreases. The three largest categories — education and health, government and business services — employ more than 20 million workers each. Business services include lawyers, accountants and other professionals.

Change in jobs by industry from Aug. 2019 to Aug. 2020

Jobs added
Unemp. change
1. Education and health
23.1 million
 -1.1 million
2. Government
21.9 million
3. Business services
20.1 million
 -1.3 million
4. Retail
15 million
5. Leisure and hospitality
12.7 million
 -3.8 million
6. Manufacturing
12.1 million
7. Finance
8.7 million
8. Construction
7.2 million
9. Wholesale trade
5.6 million
10. Goods transportation
5.3 million
11. Publishing and data
2.6 million
12. Mining, oil and gas
13. Utilities

Unemployment is now higher than it was in 2018

The traditional unemployment rate — known by government statisticians as the U-3 rate — counts only those who are unemployed and actively looking for work. But it doesn't include people who have given up looking for work, so-called discouraged workers, or those who are working part time but would like to be full time. The U-6 rate does incorporate those workers.

Comparing two unemployment rates

U-6 rate:

U-3 rate:


Average hourly wages spike

12-month percent change in average hourly wages

Wage growth increased dramatically since last March despite heavy job losses. The reason is because more low-wage workers have lost their jobs — about 35 percent — compared to high-wage workers. When those low-wage workers are no longer represented in the data the government uses to calculate earnings the average increases. Average earnings for private sector workers was $29.47 in Aug..

Labor force participation has dropped below 82 percent

Labor force participation for workers 25-54 years old


The labor force participation rate tracks the percent of the population that is either currently working or actively looking for work. The rate had steadily declined for workers between 25 and 54 years old since its peak in the late 1990s, in large part due to changes in the makeup of the U.S. population. However, the rate began to bounce back in 2015 as the economy recovered from the recession. It is now below the historic lows of 2014 and 2016.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Correction: A previous version of this graphic miscalculated the number of jobs added under each president.

About this graphic

Jobs, unemployment, wage and labor force data from Bureau of Labor Statistics. Newest numbers are preliminary and will be revised in coming months. Recessions data from the Federal Reserve Bank. Workforce participation data from Current Population Survey Public-Use Micro Data Files (2016), Department of Defense (2016), National Center for Health Statistics (2014), and Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015).

Originally published June 2, 2017. By Darla Cameron and Ana Swanson.

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