According to BLS’s latest jobs report, the U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August. Wall Street and economists had expected a 220,000 increase for the month. Since the start of 2015, the average monthly payroll gain stands at 212,000.
This year’s average monthly gain in jobs is nearly 50,000 fewer jobs than in 2014. Thus far, the economy is on pace to add 600,000 fewer jobs than last year. Thus, it may be prudent to assume that when the Feds hold a key policy meeting on Sept. 16 and 17, interest rates will continue to remain low. There’s growing pressure to avoid rattling the markets in light of last month’s equity selloff amid a seeming global slowdown.
Also, the strong dollar is making it more challenging for U.S. exporters to sell goods abroad. That trend is coupled with cheap prices at the fuel pump, and low oil prices—for now—is preventing inflation rates from ticking upward.
Here’s a ranking of most job gains in key industries for the month of August:
- Health care: +56,000
- Professional and business services: +33,000
- Food services and drinking places: +26,000
- Financial services: +19,000
The official unemployment rate dipped to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent in July. However, the labor participation rate remains at a 38-year low at 62.6 percent, which means a record 94 million Americans were jobless for the month of August—261,000 more than July.
August’s jobs data may eventually be revised by the Department of Labor. Even if the government portrays a more optimistic economic picture in this electoral cycle, it would be prudent to take a broader view of the U.S. business climate. Manufacturing jobs were down for the month of August, and the U.S. economy has ways to go in improving underlying, structural drivers that fuel long-term growth.
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