More Americans who've been out of work for long periods are rejoining the labor force in light of a near record number of job openings and that may also be holding down wages. The unemployment rate for Asians was also higher, though for positive reasons: More people began actively seeking work and were counted as unemployed if they didn't immediately find a job. In the first eight months of last year, 1.55 million jobs were created, while in the first eight months of this year, the total is 1.4 million.
Economists expect the unemployment rate will hold at its lowest level in 16 years, at 4.3%.
Employers in the US added a less-than-expected 156,000 net new jobs. Unemployment was expected to come in at 4.3 percent.
The August jobs report showed that roughly the same proportion of people last month as in July either had a job or were looking for one.
Overall, hiring this year has averaged 176,000 a month, roughly in line with 2016's average of 187,000. The rebuilding effort will add to construction and other jobs, but only over time as it will take time for the insurance money and government aid to get to the storm's victims. The manufacturing sector, which lost more than 2 million jobs in the last recession, added 36,000 positions.
"With the survey evidence still strong and third-quarter economic growth on course for another decent gain after the second, there is no reason to believe that the modest drop-off in employment growth is the start of a more serious downturn", said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. Professional and business services led the job gains, with 40,000. Retail stores and auto dealers added just 800 jobs after having lost 1,900 in July. Average hourly earnings for non-farm payrolls rose three cents, to $26.39 per hour. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5%.
More concerning to fed officials than slower job growth is likely to be the stalling out of wage growth year-to-date in 2017.
The average workweek for all employees was unchanged month over month at 34.5 hours. The rate is still down half a point from a year ago and twice that when including sources of "hidden unemployment" like discouraged workers.