Payrolls in the U.S. climbed less than projected in August after smaller gains the prior two months, indicating companies are being deliberate in their hiring as they wait for a pickup in demand. The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell as more people left the labor force.
The gain of 169,000 workers last month followed a revised 104,000 rise in July that was smaller than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 96 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an August increase of 180,000. Unemployment dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest since December 2008.
The weaker data come as Federal Reserve officials, who meet Sept. 17-18, are debating whether the expansion and job market have improved enough to warrant trimming monthly bond purchases. While some companies are awaiting a pickup in sales before adding to staff, Ford Motor Co. is among those putting more workers on assembly lines as the auto industry surges.
“Job growth will remain less than desirable until we see the pace of economic activity pick up,” Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, said before the report. Price projected a 170,000 gain in payrolls. “In this environment, businesses have to tread their way gingerly.”
Stock-index futures climbed as investors weighed whether the Fed will reduce stimulus. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring this month gained 0.4 percent to 1,660.2 at 8:37 a.m. in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.89 percent from 2.99 percent late yesterday.
The unemployment rate, derived from a Labor Department survey of households rather than employers, was forecast to hold at 7.4 percent, according to the Bloomberg survey median.
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