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Jobs report underperforms in August

Most sectors add jobs, but it's not enough

Payroll employment increased in August, but not as much as ADP predicted, and probably not enough for a rate hike in September.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in August, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This is much less than ADP’s predicted increase of 177,000 jobs the company made on Wednesday.

“It is more likely that payrolls will come in below 200,000, however, which would probably persuade the Fed to hold off on the next rate hike until December,” Capital Economics Chief Economist Paul Ashworth said in response to ADP’s prediction on Wednesday.

While minutes from the Federal Open Markets Committee’s most recent meeting suggested the Fed would hold off on raising interest rates until at least December, Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve System chair of the board of governors hinted in her speech last week that a rate hike in the near term is not off the books, and some speculated that it could come as soon as September.

With today’s lower-than-expected jobs report, however, a rate hike may very well be held off until at least December.

“The August employment report is not going to convince Fed officials to vote for a rate hike later this month, although an increase in December is still likely,” Ashworth said today.

The gains, or losses, were made in these areas:

Food services and drinking places: increased 34,000

Social assistance: increased 22,000

Professional and technical services: increased 20,000

Financial activities: increased 15,000

Health care: increased 14,000

Mining: decreased 4,000

Employment in several other industries including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services and government changed little over the month.

This is a sharp turnaround from last month, when total non-farm payroll employment increased by 255,000 in July, far above what experts predicted.

That being said, not everyone sees the report as discouraging, and one expert says it actually shows the economy is in good shape. 

“While construction was little changed as a whole, residential construction jobs were added while non-residential construction jobs were lost,” said Danielle Hale, the National Association of Realtors managing director of housing research.

“Other indicators of continued housing market strength are the jobs added in real estate and furniture and home furnishing stores,” Hale said. “This report is strong enough to show that the economy continues on track, but not so strong that the labor market shows signs of overheating."

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