American payrolls beat expectations

American non-farm payroll data beat expectations as employment declined by 216,000 in August, compared with a decline of 276,000 in July, according to US Bureau of Labor statistics released today.

Analysts had predicted that total non-farm payroll employment would decline by 225,000 in August.

However, August’s unemployment rate rose to 9.7%. This was higher than the 9.4% recorded in July, which was partially attributed to a drop in the labour force participation rate.

This follows yesterday’s unemployment figures, which disappointed analysts. Unemployment claims fell slightly, from 574,000 to 570,000, in the week ending August 29— worse than the predicted 560,000.

The total number of Americans claiming unemployment benefit rose to 6.234m, a week-on-week increase of 92,000.

Capital Economics said it expects the rate of decline of total payrolls to continue to improve throughout 2009, but that payrolls will not increase before next year.

Morgan Stanley, which had forecast a decline of 250,000 in August, said July’s figures had been artificially boosted by about 30,000 workers employed by automotive manufacturers, who did not participate in their usual seasonal shutdown.

Consequentially, August has recorded strong payroll figures without the usual annual increase from temporarily laid-off automotive industry employees returning to work.

Average hourly earnings were expected to increase slightly and reached $18.56 (£11.46) in August, compared with a revised $18.53 in July.

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