Today the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the August Employment Situation, showing that total nonfarm employment rose by +187,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Professional services, Health and social assistance, and Leisure and hospitality saw the largest gains, while Transportation and warehousing, Temporary help services, and Information saw the greatest declines. The national unemployment rate rose to 3.8% in August, from 3.5% in July, reflecting an increase in the labor force participation rate to 62.8%.

The August Employment Situation exceeded median forecasts in the Reuters and Bloomberg surveys of economists, both of which called for a gain of +170,000. The overall image from this month’s Employment Situation is mixed, coinciding with the rare increase in labor force participation and the number of unemployed persons.

The temporary help services industry continues to gradually descend from pandemic era highs, implying increased competitive pressures but also continuing and large opportunities for staffing firms that have developed a competitive advantage. All in all, the August Employment Situation paints a complex picture of the economy, with elements of both optimism and caution.