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US economy added jobs at robust pace last month

The US economy added 187,000 jobs in August, slightly more than expected, according to data released on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a media report said.

The monthly job total came in similar to last month’s job gains; however, the July total was revised down by 30,000 jobs to 157,000. June was revised down significantly as well, from 185,000 to 105,000, CNN reported.

Economists were expecting total job gains of 170,000, according to Refinitiv, the report said.

The August number is still a slowdown from the past two years of blockbuster job growth, and comes as the Federal Reserve aims to bring down inflation without triggering mass joblessness.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly jumped to 3.8 per cent from 3.5 per cent. It’s calmly drifted between 3.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent since March 2022, and economists had projected it would hold steady at 3.5 per cent, CNN reported.

“With 187,000 new jobs added in August 2023 and unemployment at 3.8 per cent, after red-hot post-pandemic hiring, we are seeing a slow glide into a cooler labor market this Labor Day weekend,” Becky Frankiewicz, President and Chief Commercial Officer at ManpowerGroup, said in a statement.

“With ‘pandemic paranoia’ about hiring lingering, companies are continuing to hold on to their workers, remembering how hard it was to rehire.”

Driving the increase in unemployment in August, according to the BLS report, was an increase in people who lost their jobs and those who completed temporary jobs. That cohort rose by 294,000 to 2.9 million in August, offsetting a decrease of 280,000 in July. The number of new entrants to the workforce edged higher to 597,000, CNN reported.

The labor force participation rate rose to 62.8 per cent, the highest it’s been since the onset of the Covid pandemic.

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