Job growth continued at a tepid pace in August, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by just 130,000 thanks in large part to the temporary hiring of Census workers, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The increase fell short of Wall Street estimates for 150,000, while the unemployment rate stayed at 3.7%, as expected. An alternative measure of the jobless rate, which includes discouraged and underemployed workers, increased to 7.2% from 7% in July, due mainly to a 397,000 increase in those working part-time for economic reasons.
Wage growth remained solid, with average hourly earnings increasing by 0.4% for the month and 3.2% over the year; both numbers were one-tenth of a percentage point better than expected.
Labor force participation also increased, rising to 63.2% and tying its highest level since August 2013. The total number of Americans considered employed surged by 590,000 to a record 157.9 million, according to the household survey, which is conducted separately from the headline establishment count.
The difference between the two surveys inspired some optimism.