Job market momentum slows with 151,000 jobs added in August

From The Washington Post:

The momentum in the American labor market slowed in August, but the economy still added a solid 151,000 jobs last month, according to government data released Friday morning.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent, the Labor Department reported. Those results were slightly more disappointing than analysts had anticipated, though they were not weak enough to indicate that the recovery has been derailed.

Other recent measures of the job market have shown strength: A private estimate of job growth by ADP was largely in line with expectations, while new filings for unemployment benefits remained low. August’s results follow a surge of hiring this summer that helped ease investor anxiety over turbulence in the global economy that weighed on the U.S. recovery during the first half of the year.

“This week’s economy-wide labor market indicators have generally been encouraging, consistent with ongoing improvement in the economy as a whole,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Since the start of the year, the improvement in the job market has outpaced the performance of the broader economy, which has averaged a disappointing annual growth rate of less than 1 percent. Some analysts point to a steep — but hopefully temporary — decline in inventories as one of the chief culprits. But others worry that weak investment among businesses will prove more persistent and potentially depress growth for years to come.

The manufacturing industry, pummeled by the decline in oil prices and the stronger U.S. dollar, has been under particular duress. A closely watched index from the Institute for Supply Management released this week showed the sector contracted in August after expanding for the past five months. The index has averaged just 50.2 over …

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