Utica, NY (WIBX) - The national employment figures are out and the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 96,000 jobs have been added to the economy in August. Martin Kohli, Chief Regional Economist with BLS, says the numbers released today show a continuing pattern of relatively modest gains in the nation's total employment from a survey of employers. "Since the beginning of this year we've been adding about 135,000 jobs a month and the month of August it came in around 96,000, which is a little bit below average," he said.

Changes were also noted in the unemployment rate. It dipped  a tenth of a percentage point to 8.1-percent, which according to Kohli, is not a very big change. "The over the month change in the unemployment rate was really due to the fact that the labor force shrank a little bit so, you have fewer people out actually looking for work," he said. Kohli explains that when compared to July 2011 figures--rather than the comparison being made to July 2012--the newly released numbers signify progress. He said, "A year ago the unemployment rate was over 9-percent so, it has come down more significantly over the year than it has over the past month."

But, what does the data spell out for the Utica-Rome area? ...bad news according to Kohli. "The unemployment rate in Utica-Rome has actually inched up slightly over the year from 8.0-percent in August of 2011 to 8.6-percent in August 2012 so, it's not a positive development," he said. Kohli says part of the reason the rate has risen in Utica-Rome is that the labor force has increased. "And when they're more people out looking for work and they're not finding it, you do have an increase in the unemployment rate," he said.

However, there is some positive news for our region. The survey indicates that the rate of job growth is relatively strong. Kohli said, "The number of jobs increased by about 2.5-percent over the year and the pattern of job growth in Utica-Rome is somewhat like the national pattern, in that there's relatively strong growth in leisure and hospitality, and in the education and healthcare fields." Unfortunately, government jobs in the region dipped approximately 1-percent, which Kohli says amounts to a loss of about 3,000 jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the consensus expectation for job growth in August was about 135,000, consistent to what the nation's been averaging for the first part of the year. Kohli says ultimately what the figures mean for the unemployed is that there's still a pattern of relatively slow job growth. "Which is better than no job growth at all, but the economy is not generating enough new jobs to make a significant dent in the number of people that are unemployed," Kohli said.