The US economy added 201,000 jobs in August in another strong month of hiring, slightly beating analysts’ expectations.
The unemployment rate stayed at 3.9%, near historical lows, the Labor Department reported.
Average hourly earnings grew 2.9% compared with a year ago, the strongest rate since 2009. That number is not adjusted for inflation, which has been rising in recent months and eating into workers’ paychecks. And it’s lower than wage growth rates in previous economic expansions.
Still, the wage growth figure may be held down by larger numbers of young people entering the workforce at lower pay scales. Other measures of wage growth, such as the total cost for employers, have been rising more quickly.
“We don’t think it’s a fluke,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. “We think we are at that stage where the labor market has gotten so tight that you’re going to see upward pressure on wages.”
The job gains for August were roughly in line with the average for the last 12 months, which is 196,000.
Employment growth was revised down by a total of 50,000 over June and July, making the last three months look more like a slowdown as trade tensions loomed. August is also commonly revised, meaning that this month’s number will likely change as well.
August’s job gains were driven by professional and business services as well as health care and wholesale trade. Manufacturing shed 3,000 jobs, the sector’s first monthly decline since July 2017, although manufacturers have still added 254,000 jobs over the year.
The economy has been on a roll lately, with employers reporting difficulty finding enough workers to fill their open positions. The number of job openings has exceeded the number of unemployed people since March.