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U.S. employment weakens in August as the economy adds only 130,000 jobs

Slower job growth likely to encourage the Fed to cut its rate

The U.S. economy added 130,000 jobs in August, after July’s downwardly revised 159,000 advance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate held its ground at 3.7%, and the number of unemployed persons remained near 6 million in August, according to the report.

Comparing demographic segments, the jobless rates showed little or no change over the month, coming in for men at 3.4%, whites at 3.4%, Hispanics at 4.2%, women at 3.3%, teenagers at 12.6%, Asians at 2.8% and blacks at 5.5%

The average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose eleven cents to $28.11 in August. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 3.2%.

The change in total non-farm payroll employment in June was revised downward to 178,000 jobs from 193,000. With the revisions to the prior two months, employment gains in June and July combined were 20,000 less than previously reported.

“New jobs figures signal that companies remain cautiously optimistic about this year’s economic outlook and are taking a more measured approach to hiring,” Senior Economist George Ratiu said. “This past month’s hiring trend is below the monthly average for 2019, and well below that from 2018.”

“Last month’s figures were revised downward, following a large downward revision earlier this summer, which indicate that hiring has been weaker than expected,” Ratiu said. “If this trend continues it could mean a slowdown for wage growth in the months ahead and fewer eager buyers for the housing market.”

The majority of job gains in August can be attributed to an increase in jobs in professional and business services, and social assistance. However, employment declined or showed little change in other major industries, including construction, retail trade, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, mining, transportation and warehousing.

The average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.4 hours in August.

Here are some of the areas that showed notable changes in August:

  • Employment in professional and business services increased 37,000 jobs
  • Employment in social assistance increased 13,000 jobs
  • Employment in mining decreased 5,000 jobs
  • Employment retail trade decreased 11,000 jobs

The National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said August's weak job gains are likely to encourage the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

“The soft job gains in August assures that the Federal Reserve will be cutting interest rates,” Yun said“The data masks the weakening private sector job creation. The Federal government boosted the overall figure by 28,000 in preparation for Census 2020. The economy is clearly weakening and the employment conditions show a lagging indicator. But there is still a time to get the economy into a higher gear with increased home building of affordable homes and lessening trade tensions.”

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