As the nation prepares to celebrate Labor Day, Americans are greeted with disconcerting news on the jobs front — an increase in the unemployment rate. The August 2010 unemployment rate edged up slightly from last month to 9.6 percent. Total nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 54,000, due in part to the increase in U.S. Census workers who have completed their temporary job assignments. Overall, private-sector payroll employment continued the growing trend with an increase of 67,000 positions.

Although the overall unemployment rate edged up slightly in August, there are still 14.9 million Americans unemployed. This figure has remained relatively unchanged over the past four months. The number of individuals who have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer declined slightly to 6.2 million, which represents 42 percent of all unemployed individuals.

Marginally attached workers also saw little change with 2.4 million individuals who aren’t actively seeking work but have looked for a new job during the past year. Of these marginally attached individuals, 1.1 million are considered discouraged -- they don’t think there are any jobs out there for them so they’ve stopped looking. This is up by 352,000 when compared to August 2009.

The healthcare industry continues to add jobs, as it has done for the past several months. During August, 28,000 new jobs were added in the health care industry with 17,000 coming in health care services and 9,000 in hospitals. Mining employment is also up with 8,000 new jobs added during August 2010. Since October 2009, the mining industry has added 72,000 new jobs.

One surprising gain was in the construction sector. Employment in construction jumped by 19,000 workers but this was partially due to a 10,000-worker strike that occurred in July.

Manufacturing employment dropped by 22,000 in September with most of this decline coming in the automotive manufacturing sector. This is in contrast to the previous month, and this drop in employment is coming despite efforts by the federal government to boost domestic manufacturing, especially by companies that create advanced vehicle batteries.

The economy needs to get moving at a much quicker pace to see any noteworthy gains in unemployment. As the midterm elections approach, the economy is weighing heavily on voters’ minds.

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