US Added 156000 Jobs in August; Jobless Rate at 4.4%

The unemployment rate crept up to 4.4% from the 16-year low of 4.3% reached last month, as fewer adults reported that they had a job during the month. August was the 83rd straight month of job gains.

The BLS noted in its report that Hurricane Harvey had "no [discernible] effect" on the employment data for August. Compared with a year ago, the average pay in August was up 2.5 percent - the same modest pace in recent months.

The data for demographic groups came from a survey of households that is part of the Labor Department's monthly jobs report. Non-farm payroll have increased by an average of 176,000 per month so far this year. Mining was among the economic sectors that gained jobs in August, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

August was expected to be a weak month for job creation, but it was worse than that.

The report also said the job growth in June and July was downwardly revised to 210,000 jobs and 189,000 jobs, respectively, reflecting a net downward revision of 41,000 jobs. Professional and business services led the job gains, with 40,000. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury fell to 2.10%, the lowest level all year, before rebounding to 2.13%, essentially unchanged, according to Tradeweb.

The labor force participation rate held steady in August at 62.9%, while the underemployment rate, which tracks folks out of work and those who would like full-time work but are working part-time, also held steady at 8.6%.

Economists had predicted a gain of between 170,000 to 180,000 jobs last month. Specifically, policymakers have been looking for signs of accelerated wage growth, which has been stuck around 2.5 percent for most of the year. In July, by contrast, average hourly wages rose by 9 cents, to $26.36.

Lewis Alexander, chief USA economist at Nomura, said low productivity growth and other structural factors will hold down overall economic growth in a Friday research note. There are further potential pitfalls ahead, as Washington faces a showdown over the debt ceiling, a statutory limit on how much money the U.S. can borrow that can only be increased by Congress, which could rattle markets, and delay action by the Fed.

  • Eleanor Harrison