The U.S. economy added a disappointing 142,000 jobs in August, the slowest pace of hiring so far this year and the latest indication hiring has cooled.
Economists had expected the economy would add 230,000 jobs, according to a survey by Bloomberg. The weak report on Friday ended a six-month streak of job that exceeded 200,000 each month. The job gains in August were also the weakest the Labor Department has reported since December, 2013. The August unemployment rate stood at 6.1%, matching economists’ expectations and down slightly from 6.2% in July.
Data was mixed across some of the industries that the Labor Department breaks out. Professional and business services and health care employers added jobs, but retailers shed 8,000 jobs in August. Food and beverage stores lost 17,000 jobs, an industry that was affected by “employment disruptions” at a grocery store chain in New England. That could have been a reference to the Market Basket supermarket chain, which saw employees walk off their jobs after their CEO was fired.
Other industries, including the manufacturing sector, mining and logging, transportation and the government, showed little employment change in August.
Still, hiring this year has generally been fairly broad, a trend that has encouraged economists. The strength of the labor market lately has been notable for a few reasons. In May of this year, the economy added enough jobs to officially recover all 8.7 million jobs lost during the financial crisis, a recovery that took more than four years.
But there are several factors that still vex policymakers, including stagnant wages and low labor force participation. Average hourly earnings for all employes on private nonfarm payrolls rose by only six cents in August, to $24.53. The average workweek for all employees was 34.5 hours for the sixth consecutive month.