Job growth continues in August, although smaller in Illinois

Job growth continues in August, although smaller in Illinois

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National job growth continued in August, according to a new report from Paychex, a payroll services company. The Small Business Jobs Index gained 0.45% in August and now stands at 99.8, increasing 5.74% during the past 12 months, representing a record-high year-over-year growth rate. Hourly earnings increased to 3.42% in August, the third consecutive gain in recent months. 

“The Small Business Jobs Index reached its highest level since January 2018,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit, a company focused on economic information and analytics. “The national index climbed 1.56 % in the quarter to 99.80.”


The leisure and hospitality industry continues to recover, up 14.61% since August 2020. Hourly earnings growth is up 8.36% in the industry. All regions of the U.S. had employment gains in August, with the Midwest, which includes Illinois and Missouri, gaining 4.27%. 

The national jobs index uses a 12-month same-store methodology to gauge small business employment trends on a national, regional, state, metro and industry basis.

“August’s growth in employment suggests continued economic recovery,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “In the weeks ahead, we’ll be examining the impact of the conclusion of extended COVID-19 unemployment benefits, which could provide another boost to hiring.”

The latest figures from the Illinois Department of Employment Security and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the unemployment rate in the St. Louis MSA — which includes Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties — dropped to 5.5% in July from 5.7% in June.

During the same period, the state unemployment rate decreased to 7% from 7.9%. In Madison County, the rate went from 5.5% in June to 5.3% in July. The total number of jobs increased in 13 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas.

One-month annualized growth surpassed 4% for the fourth straight month, showing strong growth in recent months. Weekly earnings growth also improved in August, although only 2.48% as weekly hours worked continued to slow in growth. Weekly hours worked growth (-0.75%) has continued to post negative year-over-year growth since May. 

Illinois was one of only two states of the top 20 in population (the other being Tennessee) where the pace of small business employment growth slowed in August. Missouri was one of only two states with hourly earnings growth over 4% (4.04%), the other being California. 

Construction was the only sector of seven measured where the pace of small business employment growth slowed during the past quarter (down -0.41%).

The monthly Small Business Employment Watch is a report focused on small business, offering analysis of national employment and wage trends as well as examining regional, state, metro and industry sector activity. The tool shows real-time insights into small business trends in the U.S. economy. Small businesses represent nearly 95% of all U.S. employers.

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