Hiring downshifted last month as US employers added a modest 151,000 jobs, about half the blockbuster gains of the two previous months, the AP reports. The Labor Department said Friday the unemployment rate remained 4.9% for the third straight month. The figures are far below July's gain of 275,000 jobs, the most in eight months, and June's increase of 271,000. Still, they're enough to lower the jobless rate over time. Job gains slowed across most major industries, and employers cut workers in manufacturing, construction, and mining. The Wall Street Journal notes that the labor force participation rate, at 62.8%, was flat compared with July, and down a tick from last August's 62.9%. The weaker pace may make it less likely that the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates at its next meeting Sept. 20-21.
Hourly wages barely increased in August and have risen just 2.4% in the past year, slightly lower than the previous month's pace. Even with last month's deceleration, however, hiring has been strong for the past year, and economists are unlikely to be particularly concerned by one month's figure: The August jobs report has typically come in below economists' expectations and is usually revised higher in the following months; over the past five years, it has typically been revised higher by about 70,000. And Americans are particularly optimistic about the job market, a Conference Board survey found, with the percentage of Americans saying jobs are "plentiful" reaching the highest level in nine years. (Read more jobs report stories.)