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U.S. Added 151,000 New Jobs In August; Unemployment Rate Steady

Job seekers wait to speak with representatives during a Choice Career Fair this summer in Los Angeles.
Patrick T. Fallon
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Job seekers wait to speak with representatives during a Choice Career Fair this summer in Los Angeles.

The U.S. added 151,000 new jobs in August and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Both those metrics fell short of expectations: Economists were expecting about 180,000 new jobs, and a slight dip in the unemployment rate, to 4.8 percent, NPR's Yuki Noguchi has reported.

Seasonally adjusted, in thousands
NPR / Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Seasonally adjusted, in thousands

But even if the numbers were somewhat disappointing, the economy has still recorded 78 straight months of job growth, NPR's Marilyn Geewax notes.

Job growth for the past few months was also revised — June numbers went down, to 271,000 from 292,000, and July went up, to 275,000 from 255,000 (which was already stronger than expected). The net change was a slight drop, with about 1,000 fewer jobs added in the past two months than the BLS had originally believed.

Average hourly earnings rose by 3 cents, to $25.73. The percentage of involuntary part-time workers, as well as the labor force participation rate and the number of long-term unemployed, all saw little change.

Service-providing sectors did well last month, the BLS reports, with food services, social assistance, professional and technical services and financial activities all seeing growth.

Health care jobs continue to increase, but at a slower pace than recent months. Mining employment, meanwhile, continues its long decline.

The jobs report has been closely watched in recent months, as the Federal Reserve considers raising interest rates for only the second time since the global financial crisis.

As NPR's John Ydstie reported on Morning Edition, the second-in-command at the Fed, Stanley Fischer, told CNBC last week that the August jobs report "will probably weigh in our decision" on the timing of a possible rate increase.

John called that "typical Fed understatement." If job growth had kept pace with expectations, he says, there would have been pressure on the Fed to raise rates sooner rather than later.

Now, Marilyn reports, many analysts expect that the Federal Reserve won't be touching rates during its September meeting.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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