America’s private employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, significantly undershooting market expectations and fueling speculation that the weak signal in the labor market recovery may lead the Federal Reserve to delay tapering of stimulus.
The Labor Department’s jobs report, released Sept. 3, shows that non-farm payroll employment rose by 235,000 in August, down from an upwardly revised 1.05 million jobs added in July and far below the FactSet-provided consensus forecasts of 750,000.
“With a big shortfall in jobs creation or recovery in August, it appears the Delta variant has infected the U.S. economy. Payrolls growth came in well below expectations and at the lowest level since January,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
So far this year, non-farm job growth has averaged 586,000 per month and, while employment has risen by 17 million since April 2020, it remains down by 5.3 million, or 3.5 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Other highlights of the jobs report, which is closely scrutinized by investors, include a drop in the national unemployment rate from 5.4 percent in July to 5.2 percent in August, while the total number of unemployed people edged down to 8.4 million. Also, there was no spike in temporary layoffs and the labor participation rate held steady at 61.7 percent in August.
Immediately after release of the report, the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield surged higher, while the DXY dollar index, which tracks the greenback’s performance against a basket of rivals, plunged. Wall Street’s main indexes retreated.
Investors are looking for clues as to when the Fed will initiate the much-anticipated rollback of its massive $120 billion in monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities, one of the crisis support measures the central bank deployed last year to help lift the economy from the pandemic recession.
Looming large in this context is Friday’s jobs report, as a weak print weakens the case that enough progress has been made in the labor market recovery, potentially drawing out the timeline for a Fed decision on tapering.
By Tom Ozimek