Employers added 173,000 workers in August and the jobless rate dropped to 5.1 percent, the lowest since April 2008 and a level that the Federal Reserve considers to be full employment.
The gain in payrolls, while less than forecast, followed advances in July and June that were stronger than previously reported, the Labor Department said Friday. Average hourly earnings climbed more than forecast and workers put in a longer workweek, the report also showed.
Persistent hiring indicates employers were upbeat about America’s demand prospects leading up to mounting concerns of further deterioration in emerging economies. Fed policy makers meeting in less than two weeks will weigh resilient U.S. employment conditions against the recent turmoil in world financial markets as they debate the timing of any interest-rate increase.
“All in all this is a very good report,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, whose projection for 180,000 payrolls was among the closest in the Bloomberg survey. “It doesn’t seem, based on other data, that what’s happened in financial and international markets is signficantly affecting the U.S. economy.”