US Economy Added 156000 Jobs, Unemployment Remains Near 16-Year Low

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The August jobs report showed the rate of growth in United States employment to be below the average of 176,000 per month so far this year - the average gain in 2016 was 187,000.

The unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point, to 4.4 percent, while the labor force participation rate stayed steady at 62.9 percent.

Across the economy, there was a net gain of 156,000 jobs, which was tens of thousands less than the prior month.

The annual increase in average hourly earnings was 2.5% for a fifth straight month.

Hurricane Harvey did not have any impact on the August jobs numbers, because the data was collected before the storm made landfall in Texas August 26, the Labor Department said.

The Institute for Supply Management said Friday that its manufacturing index rose to 58.8 percent last month from 56.3 percent in July.

Manufacturing added 36,000 jobs. July's total was cut by 20,000 from 209,000 from 189,000 while June was revised to 210,000 from 231,000.

There were bright spots in the August jobs report. "Wage growth remains stubbornly stuck in a familiar disappointing path", says Mark Hamrick of Bankrate.com. In August, job gains occurred in computer systems design and related services (+8,000).

Employment in the fields of construction, professional and trade services, mining and health care each rose in August, continuing a five-month trend. Employment growth has always been expected to slow, though, as slack in labour markets is absorbed.

Pay usually rise 3% to 4% a year at this stage of an economic recovery, but a slew of factors including global competition and the retirement of higher-paid baby boomers may be holding wages back. Average hourly earnings grew just 0.1% month-over-month, which was less than forecast. The unemployment figure in August among men was 4.1 percent; women, 4.0 percent; teenagers, 13.6 percent; white Americans, 3.9 percent; African-Americans, 7.7 percent; Asian-Americans, 4.0 percent and Hispanic-Americans, 5.2 percent.

Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted Friday that over the last several years, August's initial jobs print has been revised higher a number of times, adding that, "given the very strong survey evidence, that seems a good bet for this year too".

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