U.S. job growth slows with smaller payroll gain

Job growth continues in the United States, but at a slowing pace.

According to the latest Department of Labor estimates, nonfarm payrolls increased only 142,000 in August, well below the average monthly gain of 212,000 jobs over the past year.

The unemployment rate edged down a tenth to 6.1 percent, but in part because more people dropped out of the workforce.

Until August, payroll increases topped 200,000 for six consecutive months in the longest such stretch since the 1990s. But the August gain came in well below that level as well as economist projections.

What was initially estimated as a gain of 209,000 jobs in July was revised upward to 212,000. But the change in payrolls for June was revised downward 31,000 to 267,000.

For August, the number of people counted among those who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer fell 192,000 to 3 million. Another 7.3 million people were counted among those working part-time.

The labor participation rate edged down a tenth of a percent point to 62.8 percent.

Payroll gains were spread out among several industry sectors. Professional and business services added a net 47,000 positions, while health care employment increased 34,000. Employment in food services and at drinking places increased 22,000. Construction payrolls rose 20,000. Employment in retail trades fell 8,000.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours for a sixth straight month. The average manufacturing workweek edged up a tenth of an hour to 41 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 6 cents to $24.53. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.1 percent.