New U.S. Labor Department figures released Friday show more jobs were added in August, but the increase failed to continue the pace of more than 200,000 jobs that had been added each of the previous six months.
Payrolls increased by 142,000 people, the smallest gain in six months. This is compared with a 209,000 increase in July and an average monthly gain of 212,000 over the past year.
Despite the smaller gain in August, this pushed the nation’s unemployment rate down a tenth of a percent from July to 6.1%. Over the past year the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.1 percentage points. However, the decline in the rate appears to be due to a drop in the number of people working or trying to find work, with the labor force participation rate falling to its lowest level since the late 1970’s
In trucking, 800 jobs were lost in the for-hire sector during August, while in the wider transportation and warehousing business a total of 1,200 jobs were added.
Overall, businesses added 134,000 jobs in August, according to the Labor Department, while government added 8,000. This compares to a report released Thursday by payroll processor ADP showing private sector employment for the month rose by 204,000 jobs.
Total employment gains for July and June were downwardly revised by a combined 28,000, according to the Labor Department. It said the 212,000 new jobs were created in July, up slightly from a preliminary increase of 209,000. June's pickup was reduced to 267,000 from 298,000, still the second highest increase of the year.
"After six consecutive 200,000 plus nonfarm payrolls reports, this morning’s report was a hard pill to swallow," said Lindsey Piegza, cheif economist at the investment firm Sterne Agee. "Even with growing optimism of a near-term boom, it is clear the economy still has lingering barriers to overcome, particularly when it comes to still-lackluster wage growth. Despite strong headline job creation, it has not been enough to translate into upward momentum in wages as employers continue to rely on temporary, flexible, and low-cost labor."