Economy adds 156,000 jobs in August

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The economy added 156,000 jobs in August, fewer than expected, and the unemployment rate edged slightly higher, to 4.4 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care and mining.

“This was a softer report, but it doesn’t change the overall picture, which is the economy and the labor market are in good shape,” Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg. “August tends to be a little bit softer, so we can certainly see an upwards revision over the next couple of months,” and wage growth will accelerate as the labor market tightens, he said.

The government revised the job gain for June down from 231,000 to 210,000, and it revised the gain for July down from 209,000 to 189,000, leaving the combined gains for those months 41,000 less than previously reported.

In August average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents, to $26.39, after rising by 9 cents in July. During the past 12 months average hourly earnings have increased by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent.

The number of long-term unemployed — people who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more — was essentially unchanged in August at 1.7 million and accounted for 24.7 percent of the unemployed.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 5.3 million in August and has shown little movement in recent months.

These people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. In August, 1.5 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

These people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks that preceded the survey.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, was unchanged in August and has shown little movement during the past year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, was little changed over the month and thus far this year.