Slowing job growth in the United States ground to a halt in August with no monthly gain in payrolls for the first time in nearly a year.
The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent.
According to the latest Labor Department estimates, the loss of 17,000 government jobs exactly offset a gain of 17,000 private-sector jobs.
August was the first month in 11 months in which there’s been no net gain in nonfarm payrolls.
Moreover, initial estimates for job gains in July and June were revised downward a total of 58,000.
Using revised estimates, average monthly payroll gains have dropped to 35,000 for the past three months. Economists say sustained increases of 150,000 jobs are needed each month are needed to bring down unemployment rates.
For August, employment in the health care sector increased 30,000, while computer systems design and related services firms added 8,000 and the mining industry added 6,000.
Employment in the information sector declined 48,000, but about 45,000 Verizon workers were on strike and off company payrolls. Manufacturing payrolls declined 3,000.
While state government payrolls rose 5,000, overall government employment fell 17,000.
The average workweek for employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down a tenth of an hour to 34.2 hours. The average manufacturing work week held steady at 40.3 hours.
Average hourly pay for employees on nonfarm payrolls fell 3 cents, or
0.1 percent, to $23.09. Over the past year, though, average hourly earnings have increased 1.9 percent.