The U.S. economy created 156,000 jobs in August while the unemployment rate edged higher to 4.4 percent, according to a closely watched government report Friday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had been expecting payrolls to grow by 180,000 in August and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 4.3 percent. A broader measure that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons also was unchanged at 8.6 percent.
Despite the miss on the headline number, markets reacted little to the news as stocks appeared headed for a higher open and government bond yields and the U.S. dollar edged lower.
"This report is all noise and no signal," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM. "I'm going to advise our clients to ignore the top-line number and focus on the long-term trend. ... We're still adding roughly twice as many jobs as we need to keep the unemployment rate stable. This labor market is tight as a drum."
Key implication of #jobs report is less about #economy & more about #Fed policy: Reduces expectations of hikes, pressuring rates & #dollar
In addition to missing estimates, previous months' job totals also were cut. June was revised down from 231,000 to 210,000 while July fell from the initially reported 209,000 to 189,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
Wage growth also was weak for the month, with average hourly earnings up 0.1 percent for an annualized rate of 2.5 percent. The average work week declined by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours.