Business & Tech

Labor market momentum diminishes in August

WASHINGTON — 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 Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent. The pace of job growth and the stagnant unemployment rate were slightly more disappointing than analysts had anticipated, though they were not weak enough to indicate that the recovery has been derailed.

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The food service industry — that is, bars and restaurants — did much of the hiring last month, adding 34,000 positions. Financial services grew by 20,000 jobs, with particular growth in securities, commodity contracts, and investment. The health care industry expanded by 14,000 positions, though that was less than half the sector’s average monthly gain over the past year.

On Wall Street, all three major indexes moved higher Friday, with each gaining about 0.4 percent. Investors might be betting that the Federal Reserve will be reluctant to increase its benchmark interest rate in the wake of the surprisingly soft data.

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Despite August’s weaker-than-expected results, the nation’s job market has been one of the bright spots in the recovery.

Since the start of the year, job growth has outpaced the performance of the broader economy, which has averaged a tepid annual growth rate of less than 1 percent.

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